BIRMINGHAM, England — Lee Chong Wei, the man who has dominated the Super Series circuit without winning the most major titles, captured the All-England Open on Sunday.
The top-seeded Malaysian enjoyed a 21-19, 21-19 win over 20-year-old Kenichi Tago, the first Japanese male finalist for nearly half a century, in a final in which Lee's experience just got him through tight finishes in both games.
Lee also became the first man to win three Super Series titles in a row, having captured the titles in Seoul and Kuala Lumpur in January.
Just before giving his press conference Lee received a phone call of congratulations from the Malaysian prime minister, Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak, and came into the room buzzing with the thrill.
"It was a big relief to win and a big dream especially as it's the 100th anniversary of the All-England," said Lee.
KUALA LUMPUR, March 15 -- Muhammad Hafiz Hashim, who won the men's singles title for Malaysia at the prestigious All-England badminton championship in 2003, said he was very proud to see Datuk Lee Chong Wei repeat the feat this year.
"I was amazed by Chong Wei's fightback despite trailing early in the final yesterday. But in the end his determination to win made all the difference in achieving victory over his young Japanese opponent," he said when contacted by Bernama here on Monday.
He said Chong Wei's win was also proof that Malaysians were capable of taking on the best in the world.
"The success in good for Chong Wei himself and all Malaysian badminton fans," he added.
Chong Wei, the top ranked singles player in the world and the top seed at the championship which entered its 100th edition this year, overcame a gritty challenge from unseeded Kenichi Tago to clinch the title in straight sets of 21-19 and 21-19.
It was only the third time Malaysia had lifted the much coveted title with the first time having been in 1966 through Tan Aik Huang.
BIRMINGHAM, England (Reuters) - Unseeded Kenichi Tago saved a match point before beating Chinese sixth seed Bao Chunlai Saturday to become the first Japanese to reach the men's singles final at the All England championships since 1966. If he overcomes world number one Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia Sunday, the 20-year-old will be the first Japanese to win the men's title in a tournament dating back to 1899.
If he overcomes world number one Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia Sunday, the 20-year-old will be the first Japanese to win the men's title in a tournament dating back to 1899.
Tago had claimed the scalp of third-seeded Chinese and former champion Chen Jin in the quarter-finals so his 18-21 22-20 21-18 victory over Bao was not a total surprise.
Malaysian top seed Lee Chong Wei beat Dane Peter Gade 21-17 21-14 to make the final of the All England Championships for the second successive year.
Chong Wei faces unseeded Kenichi Tago in Sunday's final as the Japanese beat China's Bao Chunlai 18-21 22-20 21-18.
In the women's singles, 2008 champion Dane Tine Rasmussen edged out Indian seventh seed Saina Nehwal 21-19 21-17.
Rasmussen can avenge last year's final loss against China's Wang Yihan, who beat compatriot Wang Xin 21-17 26-24.
Gade had matched Chong Wei early on in the opening set but the Malaysian eventually stretched into a 17-11 lead which proved too much for the Dane.
In the second, Chong Wei took control at 15-13 in front as Gade had no reply for the world number one's cross-court smashing and neat net work.
Chong Wei, chasing his third Super Series win of the year at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham, said: "I'm really pleased to make the final. It's very important for Malaysian badminton. We've not had anyone there for a while."
Chong Wei, 33, lost last year's final to world and Olympic champion Lin Dan but the Chinese second seed was knocked out in Friday's quarter-finals by Chunlai.
The men's doubles final, meanwhile, will be an all-Danish affair for the first time since 1967.
Matthias Boe and Carsten Mogensen beat China's Guo Zhendong and Xu Chen 21-16 21-16 to set up a meeting with Lars Paaske and Jonas Rasmussen, who defeated third seeds Markis Kido and Hendra Setiawan of Indonesia 14-21 21-13 23-21.
World and Olympic champion Lin Dan of China lost his All England title on Friday night, downed in a major upset 21-16 18-21 21-17 by sixth-seeded compatriot Bao Chunlai in the quarter-finals.
Lin has contested the last six All England Badminton finals, winning four of them, but had no answer to his fellow left-hander.
Seeded two - behind Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia, who now looks clear favourite to land his first All England title after his rival's exit - Lin looked to be on his way to victory in the decider when he led 11-7 but a losing run of six points in succession turned the tables.
A confident Bao raced to 20-15 with some stunning winners and although Lin saved two match points, a smash down the line that was just out handed victory to his opponent.
Lin had been making his seasonal debut in the tournament after missing the first two Super Series of the year but has looked in good shape.
"Bao was playing really well today but I was okay too. I thought I had a chance," he said.