TheStar


KUALA LUMPUR: Lee Chong Wei proved he is the best men's singles player in the country at the moment by carving out a sensational win over Mohd Hafiz Hashim in an explosive final of the Selangor Open at the SBA Hall here yesterday.

The 22-year-old Chong Wei toiled for 63 minutes, displaying some great badminton shots, to take down a fighting Hafiz 15-9, 13-15, 15-9.

The win extended Chong Wei's unbeaten run in the local scene – he has won very meet since winning the GP Finals in 2002.


I DID IT: Lee Chong Wei beat Mohd Hafiz Hashim 15-9,13-15,15-9 for the Selangor Open title last night.
Malaysian Open champion Chong Wei, who played a more aggressive game yesterday, was happy with his win but was quick to salute his tough opponent yesterday.

“Hafiz certainly played better than in the Malacca Open final. He was sharp in his attacking and made fewer mistakes. I was prepared for a tough match and indeed it was one of the toughest matches I had played,” said Chong Wei.

The match yesterday started some 40 minutes late as technical officials needed to conduct evening prayers. But once the power-packed match started, the wait was forgotten as the two fought a ding-dong battle until they were tied at 9-9.

Chong Wei, however, pulled away with 15-9 win.

Both continued with some masterly play in the second game and the lead changed hands until 11-11. Then, the role reversed with Hafiz pulling away with some fine smashes to take a 14-11 lead.

Chong Wei pushed Hafiz to all four corners to inch closer at 13-14. But Hafiz huffed and puffed to get the final point.

It was an anti-climax in the rubber as Chong Wei raced to a commanding 12-1 lead. Hafiz chased with seven consecutive points and looked as though he was set to stage another great comeback, but Chong Wei snapped from his slump to win 15-12.

The Penangite was modest about his victory afterwards, saying he refused to accept that the victory consolidated his status as the top player in the country.

“No, I am still not the best in the country. Roslin (Hashim) did not play in this tournament. It will be great to win the title when all the top players are here.

“I am looking forward to the GP Finals (Dec 21-24 in Ipoh). I want to win my third consecutive title.”

If he was disappointed for failing to win his first senior local title, Hafiz did not show it.

“I am satisfied with my game. This is certainly a better game from me. I knew we had a 50-50 chance but today, Chong Wei was the better player. He was more patient and today he played more aggressively,” said the 22-year-old.

“But I will be back. I will be out to get it right at the GP Finals,” he added.

National singles chief coach Misbun Sidek was all smiles.

“I am happy with these two talents. They played exceptionally well here. They are certainly moving up the ranks and overtaking our current national number one Wong Choong Hann. It is good for our future,” said Misbun.

In the women's singles, top seed Woon Sze Mei was stretched to the limit by 16-year-old Amelia Anscelly in the final.

But the veteran staved off a great challenge to win 11-9, 13-10 in 43 minutes.