men’s singles final at Siri Fort Sports Complex on Sunday.
In the semifinals on Saturday, Lee, the World No 1 Malaysian, overcame a stubborn resistance from Chinese Du Pengyu 21-17, 19-21, 21-14 while World No 2 Chen of China had to play out of his skin to eke out a 21-15, 21-23, 21-19, victory over Denmark’s Jan O Jorgensen.
Though Lee and Chen are at par (8-8) in their head-to-head meetings, the Chinese has been getting the better of the legendary Malaysian in their recent clashes.
In their last five meeting, Chen has beaten Lee four successive times before the World No 1 showed him the door last month at the All England Championship to win his third title.
The women’s singles final, an all Chinese-affair, will be played out between top seed and Olympic champion Li Xuerui and All England champion and second seed Shixian Wang. Li beat Xin Liu 21-12, 21-13 while Shixian rallied to beat Yihan Wang 15-21, 21-7, 22-20.
The match of the day, however, was played out between Chen and Jorgensen.
Jorgensen has been the flag-bearer of Denmark badminton since the retirement of great Peter Gade.
Comparison with the former All England Champion is inevitable but the World No 4 Dane had insisted on creating his own legacy.
On Saturday, he looked right on course of charting one of his own the way he took the challenge to the World No 2.
Though his effort ended in a loss, he won hearts with his impressive fight in a riveting contest.
Chen weathered Jorgensen’s onslaught with the endurance of a seasoned professional but could not help falling on knees and grunting in joy when his smash on the match point turned into a winner.
At the other side, Jorgensen was bending in disbelief, tightly holding his racquet perpendicular to the ground.
The way the semifinal was fought, either of them could have been the winner. But for now, Chen had maintained his unbeaten streak on Jorgensen who, before this sixth meeting of theirs, had not even taken a game off the Chinese.
Chen, known for his friendly demeanour, was quick to cross to the other side to give Jorgensen an encouraging pat.
It was easily the best badminton the crowd had witnessed in the tournament and deservedly rewarded the two shuttlers with a standing ovation.
The Dane made an erratic start to lose the opening game but roared back with his attacking game. Chen defended with flair and opened up 18-15 lead. But Jorgensen stuck his neck out to level.
The decider went neck and neck before Chen nosed ahead 18-16. But Jorgensen, riding on fast exchanges, closed in. He, however, fumbled at the end when he gave two easy midcourt returns which were smashed by Chen to finish the contest after an hour and 19 minute battle.
“I am really disappointed that I could not pull it off and not standing in the final. I made way too easy mistakes at 18-all,” said Jorgensen.
Semifinal results: Men’s singles: 1-Lee Chong Wei (Mas) bt 7-Du Pengyu (Chn) 21-17, 19-21, 21-14; 2-Chen Long (Chn) bt 4-Jan O Jorgensen 21-15, 21-23, 21-19.
Women’s singles: 1-Li Xuerui (Chn) bt Xin Liu (Chn) 21-12, 21-13; 2-Shixian Wang (Chn) bt 3-Yihan Wang (Chn) 15-21, 21-7, 22-20.