It is not only Lee Chong Wei who has turned 29. His rivalry with Lin Dan (both pictured right) has also just seen its 29th edition. But this time, Lee Chong Wei, playing in his fourth straight Korea Open final, got back into winning mode, taking his first match from the Chinese legend since last year’s Yonex All England.
Lee’s win marked the first time he has been able to come back from a game down to snatch a victory from Lin Dan.
“This is a new year and I really wanted to do my best in the first tournament,” said Lee Chong Wei after the final. “It means Olympic points and a good feeling overall to have won.”
As far as the crowd was concerned, the main event was the opening match, where Jung Jae Sung and Lee Yong Dae went toe-to-toe with China’s Cai Yun / Fu Haifeng for the 23rd time in six years.
After the world’s two best pairs split the first two games, Jung/Lee really surged early in the decider, only to see the World Champions gnaw away at the Koreans’ 7-point lead at the interval to finally level it up at 16.
“Especially for a match played in Korea, I think we did well to win this one,” said Cai Yun after the match.
“We’ve played each other a lot and both we and Jung/Lee really like to win. They’ve beaten us at home in China before so it was good to win here.
“The most important thing was that when we got behind, we didn’t give up. We kept trying and we succeeded in winning.
“We are actually not thinking about the Olympics right now. It’s still pretty far away. We are focussing more on the tournaments coming up sooner this year, like the All England.”
In the following match, try as they might, Ha and Kim just couldn’t find the magic that had pushed them past the top seeds yesterday and Zhao Yunlei picked up a fourth title in her fourth visit to Korea.
“I’m really happy to win here again,” said Zhao afterward. We thought there would be less pressure if we’d been playing another Chinese pair in the final but because we had to play the Koreans, I think we concentrated more on preparing ourselves mentally for the match.”
Wang Shixian then took her second Victor Korea Open title by beating compatriot Jiang Yanjiao in the women’s singles final and that brought up one last chance for the home team, in the mixed doubles.
Xu Chen and Ma Jin (pictured right), heavily favoured, bounced back from a slight hiccup late in the second game, and emphatically denied Ha and Lee their first OSIM BWF World Superseries title.
“We are very happy to start off 2012 by winning,” said Xu Chen after the match, “but I also sensed where our game is lacking and so we intend to go back and work on those points in training.”
For Ma Jin, it was her first time playing a mixed doubles final in Korea since the 2006 World Junior Championships, when her opponent was also Lee Yong Dae.
Asked to reflect on the changes in the five years plus since her loss in Incheon, Ma Jin was interrupted by her partner blurting out “She’s taller!”
“Yes, I’m taller, and I have a really good partner now,” grinned Ma Jin.
When asked what he intended to do with the prize money, Xu Chen laughed, “I have to add it to my savings. Houses in Beijing are so expensive.”
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