Badminton: Tai beats Olympic champion Chen to win Thailand Open; Malaysia's Lee also triumphs

Taiwanese Tai Tzu-ying sealed the win with a 21-15, 17-21, 21-12 score. PHOTO: TAI TZU-YING/INSTAGRAM

BANGKOK (AFP) - Badminton's world No. 2 Tai Tzu-ying exacted revenge against Olympic champion Chen Yufei on Sunday (May 22) by winning the Thailand Open women's singles title in a rematch of their final in Tokyo.

The Taiwanese 27-year-old, who lost last year's Thailand Open final to Spain's Carolina Marin, got off to a fast start against the Chinese world No. 4 and eventually sealed the win 21-15, 17-21, 21-12.

She sped into a nine-point lead in the first game but Chen, who was part of a Chinese team narrowly defeated by South Korea in last week's Uber Cup in Bangkok, clawed her way back to take the second game and force a decider.

Tai then quickly opened up a seven-point lead in the final game and rode the momentum to claim victory.

In the men's final, match favourite and world No. 6 Lee Zii Jia survived an unexpected scare at the hands of Chinese rookie Li Shifeng, ranked 49th in the world.

A shaky Lee managed to come from behind to win 17-21, 21-11, 23-21 in a match lasting 70 minutes.

The 24-year-old Malaysian showed aggression and high energy in the opener but the burden of expectations got the better of him as Li seized the first game.

Lee - who won the Badminton Asia Championships in Manila this month - steadied himself in the second and raced to a six-point lead at the break before equalising the score.

In the last game, a nervous Lee overplayed some shots while Li proved lethal in attack and carved out a seven-point advantage at the interval.

Power smashes and fancy footwork helped Lee narrow the gap, levelling the score at 19 all.

But a sloppy long shot gave Li match point, which Lee managed to save.

The encounter came to a climax as Lee then squandered his own match point, before coming up trumps on his second opportunity to secure the final game 23-21.

After hitting the winning shot, Lee sank to his knees in elation, before throwing his shirt and racket into the crowd.

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