Sports

Lin Dan stages fightback to clinch Malaysia Open title

Lin Dan, the battle-hardened champion who won five world titles and two Olympic gold medals, is back; consigning Lin Dan, the weary warrior who suffered early exits in his recent tournaments, to oblivion.

The Chinese badminton legend clinched the Malaysia Open title yesterday by defeating compatriot Chen Long to bag the US$49,000 (S$66,000) cheque and priceless ranking points at the Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur.

Displaying both grit and guile in equal measure, the unseeded 35-year-old staged a comeback to overcome the fourth seed 9-21, 21-17, 21-11.

Chen Long, who was the favourite heading into the final, thought he had things under control with an easy 21-9 win in the first set, but the 30-year-old could not muster a response when Lin Dan seized the initiative and dominated the second and third sets.

With the victory, Lin Dan has put himself among the title favourites for this week’s Singapore Badminton Open, where he has been drawn to meet world No. 4 Viktor Axelsen in the first round at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Wednesday.

Lin Dan admitted that he has suffered from self-doubts following his drop in form last year, reported the Badminton World Federation website

“My performance last year was not ideal. As a result, I was under a lot of pressure and I had doubts about myself,” he said.

“I have been playing for so many years, now that I’m at the tail end of my career, I hope everyone can understand that it’s normal that my form fluctuates.

“I feel that I played well in this Malaysia Open because I was very determined, in good form and hungry for victory. I didn’t play at an exceptionally high level in this tournament, all I did was stick to my strategy and play to my strengths.”

There was a surprise waiting for him at the coronation ceremony, where his arch-rival and long-time friend, Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei handed him the mock cheque.

Lee, who had been advised by doctors to put his comeback on hold after a successful treatment for nose cancer, expressed well wishes for Lin Dan on his Facebook page.

 “Congrats to Lin Dan my greatest arch rival. This is the first time we stand on podium not as each other’s opponent,” Lee posted, along with a photo of him on the podium, flanked by the two Chinese shuttlers.

Tickets for this week's Singapore Badminton Open are available from www.sportshub.com.sg

MEET THE STARS AT WISMA ATRIA

Catch the likes of Kento Momota, Jonatan Christie, Tai Tzu-ying and Yeo Jia Min at a public press conference for the Singapore Badminton Open at Wisma Atria on Tuesday (April 9) at 11.30am. Fans can get a chance to play games with the stars, get burning questions answered and win goodie bags.

badmintonMalaysia OpenLin DanChen LongLee Chong WeiSingapore Badminton Open