KUALA LUMPUR: Tokyo continues to be world No. 1 men’s singles shuttler Lee Chong Wei’s happy hunting ground.
On Sunday, the 30-year-old Chong Wei played brilliantly to overcome home favourite Kenichi Tago 23-21, 21-17 for his fourth Japan Open title since its inception in 1984.
This makes Chong Wei the most successful men’s singles player in the Japan Open. He had previously won in 2007, 2010 and 2012.
It was also his first title since losing to China’s Lin Dan in the final of the World Championships last month. The Japan Open triumph clearly shows that Chong Wei’s desire to win is still intact.
It was his 14th win over Kenichi – and probably one of the most meaningful one.
Chong Wei showed great determination and focus throughout the tournament despite the resignation of his coach Rashid Sidek on Thursday.
“I dedicate this win to my coach Rashid,” said a delighted Chong Wei, who has won four other Super Series titles this year – in Malaysia, South Korea, India and Indonesia.
The Malaysian, however, paid a glowing tribute to Kenichi for pushing him to the limit – especially in the opening game. The Japanese held game point at 20-17 but allowed Chong Wei to come charging back to take the opener.
“I expected a tough match from him and he gave me just that. I was very highly motivated to win here and, despite trailing, I never gave up,” said Chong Wei.
“I saw Tago’s determination to win his country’s second title of the day (after the women’s singles) and, fortunately, I was able to counter all his moves today.”
Chong Wei was also full of praise for Japan’s progress in the game.
In the all-Japan women’s singles final, 16-year-old Akane Yamaguchi stole the thunder by defeating Shizuka Uchida 21-15, 21-19 to become the country’s first home champion.
“Japan is really showing progress. I cannot believe that a 16-year-old has won the women’s singles title. Japan now have more depth in their team,” Chong Wei said.
“We really need to step up to the plate and look at our team,” added Chong Wei, who will return home today before heading to China for their league this weekend.
Reigning world champions Mohd Ahsan-Hendra Setiawan of Indonesia continued their winning streak when they thumped Chai Biao-Hong Wei 22-20, 21-16 for their first Japan Open title as a pair. Hendra won in 2009 with Markis Kido.