Badminton: Chen Long downs ‘difficult’ Lin Dan to win Malaysia Open
- Updated: April 5, 2015
April 5, 2015: World No. 1 Chen Long bounced back from an opening-game loss to record an ultimately comfortable 20-22, 21-13, 21-11 win over legendary compatriot Lin Dan in the Maybank Malaysia Open final on Sunday.
The final didn’t quite live up to expectations, especially considering Lin had shown glimpses of his renowned brilliance in his semi-final, when he came back from 15-11 down in the decider to beat World No. 2 Jan Jorgensen 14-21, 21-19, 21-17.
Lin, backed by the majority of the crowd as he sought to win his first Malaysia Open title, was sharp in the first game of the final and kept his nose ahead, but as the match progressed appeared to struggle in controlling the shuttle. Chen, meanwhile, gave his opponent few openings and for the most part employed the soft touch rather than the hammer blow.
There was a brief period in the decider when it looked like Lin would repeat his semi-final heroics after he narrowed a 12-3 deficit to 12-8, but the momentum once again deserted him and Chen, 26, wrapped up the match to become the event’s first Chinese men’s singles champion since Chen Hong in 2003.
“I played the critical points well in the first game despite losing it,” said Chen, whom Lin has publicly declared to be his successor.
“It was a difficult match. There was a drift on and off, which is understandable because Malaysia is a hot country. Whatever the match situation, Lin is very calm on court and never succumbs to pressure. That’s why he is such a difficult opponent.”
Lin, the 2008 and 2012 Olympic champion and five-time world champion, is now World No. 3, having been ranked outside the top 100 less than a year ago after playing sparingly since retaining his Olympic title at London 2012.
Carolina Marin repeated her BWF World Championships performance in the women’s singles final to grab her second World Superseries Premier title of the year.
Marin’s match against Li Xuerui – until recently the World No. 1 – was nearly identical to the World Championships final. Li had a lead in the third game, but Marin staged an escape act from 14-9 down, reeling off eight points in a row.
The Spaniard showed great nerve at critical stages, daring to go for the lines or playing tight net shots under Li’s nose, and her aggressive play in the closing stages culminated in a 19-21, 21-19, 21-17 win.
“The crowd today was amazing,” Marin said. “I saw some Spanish flags in the audience. When the crowd supports you, it just gives you more power.”
Li’s narrow win over India’s Saina Nehwal, now World No. 1, in the semi-finals and her loss to World No. 2 Marin in the final reflected the close race between the world’s top three. Marin said she was focusing on her performances and not on the top spot.
“My goal this year was to win the All England and to play well at every tournament,” Marin said. “If I play well, a high ranking will follow. Ranking is secondary. I just take it match by match.”
The Spaniard’s victory over Li meant that China had to be content with three titles, after Chen, twins Luo Ying and Luo Yu (women’s doubles) and Zhang Nan and Zhao Yunlei (mixed doubles) had triumphed earlier.
The tournament closed with a dramatic men’s doubles final between Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan and Lee Yong-dae and Yoo Yeon-seong, with the Indonesians prevailing 14-21, 21-15, 23-21 in a test of nerves.
The Luo twins achieved their World Superseries breakthrough by beating Korea’s Jung Kyung-eun and Chang Ye-na 21-18, 21-9 in a match that featured a 103-stroke rally.
“It’s an emotional victory because it’s the first World Superseries title win for us,” said Luo Ying. “It means a lot. It’s a breakthrough at the World Superseries level, but we still have a lot to learn from our seniors.”
Two moments in the mixed doubles final showed why Zhang Nan and Zhao Yunlei have enjoyed near-total dominance over compatriots Xu Chen and Ma Jin.
The difference was Zhao, who not only controlled the forecourt but also smashed with venom to split the defence of her opponents. A steep slice by Zhao made it 12-12 in the second game. Match point was won when Zhao smashed at Xu Chen who was unable to retrieve.
“China has many strong woman doubles players, but Zhao is outstanding,” said Zhang Nan.
Asked about the 19-2 record they now enjoy over Xu and Ma, Zhang replied that it had never occurred to them.
“We never thought about this record. We didn’t notice that we have won so many times. It’s a bit awkward when you play your own teammates in the final. Our performance has been good over the last few months and we have managed to maintain our form. We hope to keep going.”
Source: Dev Kumar / BWF World Superseries (bwfworldsuperseries.com); Editing by SportAsia