Lin Dan turns back the clock with first major title in two years
Chinese badminton legend turns back the clock with Malaysia Open victory
Lin Dan, the battle-hardened champion who won five world championship titles and two Olympic gold medals is back; consigning Lin Dan, the weary warrior who suffered early exits in recent tournaments to oblivion.
The Chinese badminton legend clinched his first major title in two years by defeating compatriot Chen Long, 30, to claim the Malaysia Open title at the Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur yesterday, bagging a US$49,000 (S$66,000) cheque and priceless ranking points in the process.
Displaying both grit and guile, the unseeded 35-year-old came from behind to overcome fourth seed Chen Long 9-21, 21-17, 21-11 over 78 minutes.
With the victory, world No. 16 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 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 badminton legend Lee Chong Wei presented the prize cheques to him and Chen Long.
Lee, whose comeback has been put on hold after treatment for early-stage 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," the 36-year-old posted, along with a photo of him on the podium with the two Chinese shuttlers.
Lin said he hoped to meet Lee on court again, as they prepare for next year's Tokyo Olympics.
In the women's singles final, world No. 1 Tai Tzu-ying of Taiwan beat Japanese fourth seed Akane Yamaguchi 21-16, 21-19 in 40 minutes.
China dominated all the other events, winning the mixed doubles, women's doubles and the men's doubles.
Chinese duo Li Junhui and Liu Yuchen beat Japanese pair Takeshi Kamura and Keigo Sonoda 21-12, 21-17 to win the men's doubles.
The pairings of Zheng Siwei and Huang Yaqiong, and Chen Qingchen and Jia Yifan also clinched the mixed doubles and women's doubles respectively.
MEET THE STARS
Catch the likes of Kento Momota, Jonatan Christie, Tzu-ying and Yeo Jia Min at 11.30am tomorrow at Wisma Atria, where a public press conference for the Singapore Open will be held.
Fans could get a chance to play games with the stars and and win goodie bags.
Tickets for the Open are available via www.sportshub.com.sg