New Delhi: World number one Lee Chong Wei faced a stiff challenge but in the end stamped his class to prevail over Kenichi Tago of Japan and claim the men's singles title at India Open Super Series badminton tournament on Sunday.
Chong Wei took an hour and three minutes to overcome his world number nine Japanese opponent 21-15 18-21 21-17 in the summit clash at the Siri Fort Sports Complex. Earlier, world number six Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand clinched the women's singles title after causing an upset victory over world number four Juliane Schenk of Germany 22-20 21-14 in 45 minutes.
Chong Wei and Tago began on an equal footing before Chong Wei, who was playing his third consecutive final here, surged ahead from 9-all by taking three straight points. The Japanese managed a point in between but the Malaysian again took three successive points to take a 15-10 lead. Chong Wei kept on extending the gap before winning the opening game 21-15.
In the second game, Tago got his act together and straightaway opened up a 3-0 lead. He made it 12-4 in no time to leave the Malaysian grasping for breath. Chong Wei was not the one to surrender so easily as he won five successive points to make it 9-12. The Japanese was also in no mood to let the advantage slip away. He kept on winning points even as Chong Wei showed his class by coming back again and again.
Serving at 20-15 in the second game, Tago hit it out to give the serve to Chong Wei, who also bagged the next two points to make it 18-20. Tago, however, managed to win a point to take the match to the deciding game.
The third game was a neck-and-neck affair till 7-7 before Chong Wei put in all his experience to take a 13-8 lead. The game involved long rallies and smashes that mostly went in Chong Wei's favour. At 16-9, Chong Wei suddenly seemed to have lost steam as he gifted his opponent a few points by making unforced errors.
Tago capitalised on it and made it 16-17 but Chong Wei showed why he is world number one as he finally bagged the thrilling battle with his powerful smash. In the opening game of Intanon-Schenk clash, the third seeded Thai initially committed a number of unforced errors as she kept hitting the net to give points to her German opponent.
After opening up a 7-3 lead, the second seeded German continued to move ahead to extend the gap before they went for a break with Schenk leading 11-7. But after the break, Intanon came back strongly, winning eight points on the trot to surge ahead 15-11, even as the German suddenly lost rhythm and kept hitting it out.
Intanon eventually made it 20-13 and the first game seemed all but over for Schenk before she saved as many as seven match points to level the scores 20-20. But Intanon bagged two straight points to seal the game in her favour 22-20. The second game was levelled till 9-all with both the players trading points mainly due to unforced errors.
The Thai then opened up a small 12-9 lead but Schenk was not the one to surrender so easily. She hit a fine smash before taking another point to yet again reduce the gap to 12-14. But Intanon patiently waited for a service break and then earned three successive points to make it 20-13 before finally wrapping it off 21-14.
Meanwhile, in the women's doubles final, fourth seeded Japanese combo of Miyuki Maeda and Satoko Suetsuna registered an upset victory over second seeded pair of Christinna Pedersen and Kamilla Rytter Juhl of Denmark 12-21 23-21 21-18 in little less than an hour.
It was a hat-trick for the top seeded Indonesian mixed doubles pair of Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir at the India Open. They beat Korean duo of Sung Hyun Ko and Ha Na Kim 21-16 21-13 in 33 minutes to lift mixed doubles title for the third time in a row.
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