EnglandSunday, 14th March 2010
Badminton All England 2010: Malaysia's Lee Chong Wei lands first British title in style.
Malaysia’s world No 1 Lee Chong Wei finally won his first All England title on Sunday when he beat Kenichi Tago, the unseeded and exciting Japanese player, in an enthralling, high-tempo men’s singles final in Birmingham.
Chong Wei, who had trained for the Badminton Championships anticipating a final with Chinese rival Lin Dan, thus became the first non-Chinese men's singles winner since 2003 and only the second Malaysian champion in 44 years with his 21-19, 21-19 win.
Critics in Malaysia had questioned whether Chong Wei had the tenacity to lift a major title, having previously only won bronze at the World Championships. Not referring to the critics but to the winners of the five disciplines in Birmingham, Chong Wei had said after his first round win: “Their names will be remembered for a long time if they win this year.” The Malaysian now has the opportunity to unleash further titles after winning this elusive one.
All England Open highlights He lost out in last year's final to Dan, the world and Olympic champion, but the Chinese exited in the quarter-finals to ease the way for Chong Wei. And despite some nervy moments in the second game, the Datuk, Malaysia’s highest honour, put those answers to bed when he finally clinched the elusive one. But he had to fight hard against Tago who had earlier beaten top Chinese talent Chen Jin and Bao Chunlai to become the first Japanese to reach the men's singles final since Masao Akiyama finished runner-up in 1966.
Tago led 4-0 in the first set and 15-11 before Chong Wei finally nosed ahead at 16-15. Though Tago managed to save three set points he finally yielded at 21-19. In the second, Chong Wei led 6-1 and 11-7 but the tough Japanese levelled at 15-15.
Chong Wei thenconjured a stunning deceptive smash to a wrong-footed Tago from the back of the court. He backed it up with the real thing in the next rally with a huge winning smash.
The world No 1 found himself with three match points and although the young Japanese saved two, a third proved too much when a long drive to the baseline was called in – despite the shuttle visibly going beyond the baseline on the video replays.
Tago looked to protest but it would have taken a brave umpire to deny Chong Wei victory when he was already lying on his back in joy.
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