Badminton: Lee Chong Wei nets amazing 12th title in Malaysia Open by overwhelming Kento Momota

Lee Chong Wei preparing to hit a return to Kento Momota during their Malaysia Open final in Kuala Lumpur on July 1, 2018. The former world No. 1 won 21-17, 23-21 by going on the offensive against his younger opponent.
Lee Chong Wei preparing to hit a return to Kento Momota during their Malaysia Open final in Kuala Lumpur on July 1, 2018. The former world No. 1 won 21-17, 23-21 by going on the offensive against his younger opponent.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) - Malaysian veteran Lee Chong Wei beat young Japanese shuttler Kento Momota 21-17, 23-21 on Sunday (July 1) to grab the Malaysia Open title for a historic 12th time.

The home favourite executed a sensational attack strategy that left the rising star confused and flat footed.

In the women's singles final, top seed Tai Tzu-ying from Chinese Taipei saw off China's He Bingjiao 22-20, 21-11.

Lee, 35, triumphed in 71 minutes to avenge his defeat by Momota, 23, in the semi-finals of the Asian Championships, which the Japanese won, in April.

The defeat brought an abrupt end to Momota's 21-match winning streak.

"There was some pressure for me to win this tournament," Lee told reporters.

"Now I have won the Malaysia Open for the 12th time. I hope this will encourage me to do well at the World Championships and Asian Games."

The world No. 6 left Momota hapless with his sharp overhead drives to take the opening game 21-17 in 30 minutes, backed by a raucous home crowd.

At times during the game, Momota was left bewildered.

But in the second game, he recovered admirably with similar powerful overhead smashes and some brilliant defence work.

Momota was full of praise for Lee, saying: "Even though he is 12 to 13 years older, he is a strong player and still dominates men's badminton."

In the mixed doubles, Chinese fourth seeds Zheng Siwei and Huang Yaqiong edged out their second-seeded compatriots Wang Yilyu and Huang Dongping 21-19, 21-18.

Japan enjoyed a fine day, winning the other two titles. In the women's doubles, Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi, the fifth seeds, breezed past China's top seeds Chen Qingchen and Jia Yifan 21-12, 21-12.

In the men's doubles, sixth seeds Takeshi Kamura and Keigo Sonoda thrashed the unseeded Hiroyuki Endo and Yuta Watanabe 21-8, 21-10.