Lee Chong Wei carved another piece of history after winning the Malaysia Open for the 12th time after he turned on a sensational attacking display to beat Kento Momota 21-17, 23-21 on Sunday.
It would take some time before any shuttler, let alone a Malaysian, come close to Lee’s feat.
He showed no signs of slowing down at 36 this year, and put his Japanese opponent 13-years his junior to shame at times with his incredible agility and stamina.
“I’m 36 and and still in court fighting. It is motivation for me to have my family and fans cheering me here every day. I have now won the Malaysia Open 12 times and this will boost my spirits even more,” Lee told FOX Sports Asia after the win.
“There was some pressure for me to win this, with many young players emerging. I had also lost to Momota at the Asian Championships (in April), so I had to be at my best and focus on every point.”
“I will take some rest before heading to the Indonesia Open next. It’s a big year with the world championships and Asian Games also around the corner, so this win is a huge encouragement for me.”
Lee defied his age with energy of a teenager, working Momota deep into baseline pockets with his long drives.
But it was the Malaysian’s attacking prowess, mixed with almost perfect netplay precision which stood out.
When he wasn’t lashing an overhead smash to force Momota into a full stretch retrieval, Lee was leaving his opponent flat-footed with deceptive cross-court drop shots.
Momota’s 21-match unbeaten reign had ended with the defeat, and he acknowledged Lee’s superiority.
“I had difficulty adjusting my style to his speedy shots. He played a variation of net shots that caught me out. Even though he is almost 13 years my senior, he is still going strong,” said Momota.
“He is still dominating men’s badminton at his age. I hope to be as good as him one day.”
Lee will next head to the Indonesia Open (July 3-8), before he prepares to win the elusive world championships in Nanjing, China at the end of July.
Photo credit: Badminton Association of Malaysia Facebook