Chen Long did not have the best of starts but he surely finished off sensationally to claim his first-ever Malaysian Open title. In fact, he’s the first player from China in 12 years to win the men’s singles crown here.
After their last victory by Cheng Hong in 2003, the event was dominated by Datuk Lee Chong Wei who was champion from 2004 to 2014, except for 2007 when it was won by Dane Peter Gade.
The stadium erupted in a massive roar as Lin Dan, the former world champion and double Olympic gold medallist, made his way onto the court. It was clear who the crowd’s favourite was today. And Lin Dan responded by quickly taking a 4-1 lead.
Chen Long recovered just as fast and was soon tied at 4-4. At 7-7. Lin Dan called for a review and the decision was overturned in his favour at 8-7. But Chen Long immediately replied with a vicious backhand cross-court drop.
The battle continued and at 20-all, Chen Long’s shot fell short at the net. To his horror, he made the same mistake again for Lin Dan to take the first set at 22-20.
Chen Long, the top seed here, was not not ready to call it a day and charged back with a fiery performance which saw him take the lead at 6-5. He extended it to 14-9 and later 19-12 before sealing the tie at 21-13. Lin Dan appeared to back off the gas as the gap grew.
In the decider, Chen Long continued from where he left off and soon raced away to a 9-2 lead. The crowd began to rally behind Lin Dan but it was not enough as Chen Long led 11-3 at the break.
A breath-taking exchange at the net saw Lin Dan prevail and narrow the gap to 9-13. But any hopes of a comeback were soon dashed as Chen Long pressed on to lead 15-11.
Then a series of poor shots from the former champion sealed his fate and Chen Long went on to claim the decider 21-11 and the prestigious men’s title.