KUALA LUMPUR: An emotional Lee Chong Wei thanked his lucky stars when he clinched his 12th Malaysia Open title on Sunday.
Chong Wei, 36, proved that he was still a top play despited his advanced age by overcoming Japan’s Kento Momota 21-17, 23-21 in the men's singles final at the Axiata Arena in Bukit Jalil.
A challenge on the final point made all the difference as Chong Wei was not confident of winning had the match gone into the deciding game.
"Sometimes luck is very important. Even in the first game, I won some points through lucky net shots.
"When Momota took the lead in the second game, I told myself it would be trouble for me in the rubber. In terms of fitness, he was at an advantage.
"That challenge was 50-50, I had to call it. I still had two challenges, and if it was unsuccessful, I was still in the game, so I had to call it. After that I didn't know what happened," said Chong Wei, who just fell to the ground after knowing he had won.
On his record, Chong Wei said: "I always challenge myself because I am no longer 26. I also hope the younger players will one day break my record.
"Winning a 12th Malaysia Open crown in front of your home fans is not easy. I was under so much pressure coming into this tournament. So many top young players and I was the only Malaysian men's singles to qualify.
"In the final, I took on Momota, who had a 21-match winning streak. In fact, I lost to him in our previous meeting at the Asia Championships, so it wasn't easy.
"My motivation will always be my family as well as the people of Malaysia, who have always stood by me. I now hope to go on and achieve greater success, especially in the World Championships (Nanjing, China) and the Asian Games (Indonesia)."
When asked about another possible record breaking feat at the Indonesia Open that starts on Tuesday, six-time winner Chong Wei added: "I can't promise anything, but I will do my best because it's nice to set records.
“More importantly for me is to stay injury free and to focus on the majors this year,” he added.
Momota congratulated Chong Wei on his win, saying he is still the man to beat in world badminton.
"Even though he is 12 years older than I am, he is still very strong and I have a lot of respect for him.
"To me, people like Chong Wei still dominate the game and I hope to one day be like that," said Momota, who only returned from suspension (by the Japan BA for illegal betting) mid last year.
Chong Wei pocketed US$49,000 (RM198,000) for his efforts, while Momota received US$23,800 (RM96,000).
Men's singles: Lee Chong Wei (Mas) bt Kento Momota (Jpn) 21-17, 23-21;
Doubles: Takeshi Kamura-Keigo Sonoda (Jpn) bt Hiroyuki Endo-Yuta Watanabe (Jpn) 21-8, 21-10;
Women's singles: Tai Tzu Ying (Tai) bt He Bingjiao (Chn) 22-20, 21-11;
Doubles: Misaki Matsutomo-Ayaka Takahashi (Jpn) bt Chen Qingchen-Jia Yifan (Chn) 21-12, 21-12;
Mixed doubles: Zheng Siwei-Huang Yaqiong (Chn) bt Wang Yilyu-Huang Dongping (Chn) 21-19, 21-18.
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