TheStar Dec 15



KOTA KINABALU: National shuttler Lee Chong Wei recovered from a first game setback to reach his fourth consecutive men’s singles final in the Proton National Grand Prix Finals at the Likas Sports Complex here yesterday.

Chong Wei, the three-time national champion, took more than an hour to tame a fired-up Mohd Roslin Hashim 15-17, 15-8, 15-2 in the semi-finals.

Today, he will take on another veteran, Wong Choong Hann, in the final in a bid to become the first Malaysian in many years to win four consecutive titles.

Choong Hann disposed of Yeoh Kay Bin 15-10, 15-5 in the other semi-final.

The first game between Chong Wei and Roslin was the best in the tournament so far.

Roslin took to the court hoping for revenge but all looked bleak when Chong Wei raced to a 13-5 lead.

From then on, the fightback began.

With a more aggressive approach, and cheered on by the fans, Roslin went all the way to beat Chong Wei 17-15.

But that was as far as he went. A composed Chong Wei charged back to win the next two games easily.

A jubilant Chong Wei said: “I got off to a good start but I slowed down after taking a comfortable lead and Roslin capitalised on it.

“But I was not all deterred by the defeat. I maintained the speed of my game and he (Roslin) found it difficult to keep up.”

On his chances against Choong Hann in the final today, Chong Wei said: “I have beaten one senior. Now, another is in my way. I am determined to win my fourth national title. I have not lost to Choong Hann for a long time now and I intend to keep it that way.”

Roslin was satisfied with his first game victory.

“At least, I gave a good fight to win the first game. I just could not counter his game in the second. I was slower in the third game,” said Roslin, who will get ready for the Swiss Open and All-England next month.

Choong Hann, who will be featuring in his first final in five years, said: “I was the doubles national champion in 1997. I won the singles title in 1998 and 1999. Since then, I have failed to make it to the finals of the national meet.

“The excitement is not the same but I will still give it my best. It will not be easy to beat Chong Wei as he is in good form. Besides, we train under the same coach (Li Mao) and we know each other’s game quite well,” added the 28-year-old.

In the women’s singles, defending champion Anita Raj Kaur had to dig deep into her reserves to stage a remarkable comeback from 1-7 down in the rubber-game to beat former national shuttler M. Sutheaswari of Kuala Lumpur 3-11, 11-4, 11-9 to reach the final.

Anita, who took a three-week break from badminton to concentrate on her Sijil Tinggi Pelajaran Malaysia (STPM) examinations, will take on Julia Wong today.

After losing at the same stage in last year’s national meet, Julia gained revenge over youngster Lydia Cheah with a 11-8, 11-8 win in the other semi-final.