Lee Chong Wei took apart Indonesia’s Tommy Sugiarto 21-18, 21-15 to storm into the Malaysia Open final on Saturday, but he will face a tall order to win the tournament for the 12th time.
This is because he faces one of the most in-form shuttler in Kento Momota, who is unbeaten in 21-matches since returning from a year-long ban for gambling.
Even Lee admitted his 23-year-old opponent on Sunday would go on to be a world beater.
“Momota is a youngster who has improved a lot since his ban was lifted. He will go on to conquer the badminton world once Lin Dan and myself retires,” Lee told FOX Sports Asia after his victory over Sugiarto.
“But I will go out and enjoy myself as usual. I am hoping to realise my dream of winning for the 12th time in the Malaysia Open. Beating Sugiarto for the 17th time is also good for my career.”
Lee was impressive form against Sugiarto, continuing his rich vein of form after he disposed of world number one Viktor Axelsen on Friday.
The 35-year-old stretched his younger opponent all over the court with his deceptive shots and fiery forehand smashes for the victory.
But Lee will need to be on top of his game to topple Momota, who has already beaten him in the Asian Championships semifinal in April.
The Japanese had to play in lower tier tournaments after being inactive, but his high work-rate and explosive talent has taken him to within the top 10 in just over a year.
The women’s singles will see Taiwanese Tai Tzu-Ying face China’s He Bingjiao in the final.
World number one Tai overcame India’s P.V. Sindhu 21-15, 19-21, 21-11, while He beat Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon 21-17, 21-17.
Other developments also saw the Badminton Association of Malaysia impose a smoking test on all its national shuttlers.
This came after men’s singles shuttler Iskandar Zulkarnain was caught smoking in a hotel room at the Thomas Cup finals in May.
As a result, Iskandar was dropped from the Asian Games team and will be replaced Soong Joo Ven.
Photo credit: Badminton Association of Malaysia