Malaysia Masters 2019: Lee Chong Wei's return, Carolina's class, Ratchanok's perfect run and other key takeaways

The second tournament of the BWF World Tour threw some interesting results along with a couple of classy moments in an entertaining week in Kuala Lumpur. Some of the big guns floundered on the court, while the non-favourites made the most of the opportunities presented to them.

Here, we take a look at the five takeaways from the Super World Tour 500 tournament in Malaysia:

Lee Chong Wei takes the podium

If there’s one person who can light up the arena, it’s Lee Chong Wei.

The presentation ceremony of the Malaysia Masters turned out to be more special as Lee, who is on a comeback trail from cancer, was honoured by the winners Chen Long and Son Wan Ho with a podium picture.

The legendary shuttler was welcomed by the boisterous crowd in Kuala Lumpur with a loud cheer as he presented bouquets and medals to fellow shuttlers Son and Chen after the men’s singles final. South Korea's Son won the Malaysia Masters men's title with a 21–17, 21–19 scoreline.

Lee is expected to return before the Olympic qualifying period, which starts in May.

Touch of class from Marin

Malaysia Masters 2019: Lee Chong Weis return, Carolinas class, Ratchanoks perfect run and other key takeaways

Having helped her injured opponent Gao Fangjie on to a wheelchair, world champion Carolina Marin gives her a warm hug. BWF

Just when China’s Gao Fangjie got into the rhythm in the second game, her body gave up. She was limping around the court, groaning in pain. After being examined by the medical team, it was decided that Gao would not be able to continue. Looking at the agony, Marin approached her rival and immediately carried Gao's body into a wheelchair.

The audience applauded the Spaniard’s treatment as Marin advanced to the quarter-finals. Sportsmanship, though, was the real winner.

Saina Nehwal makes impressive start

After surviving a scare against the unseeded Deng Joy Xuan in the opening round, Saina Nehwal had an easy outing in the second round. Yip Pui Yin didn't trouble the former World No 1 much as she strolled past the Hong Kong shuttler 21-14, 21-16.

In the last-16, Nehwal scuppered Nozomi Okuhara’s chances of taking the match to a decider by fighting off two game points to grind her way to a 21-18 23-21 victory. This was also the Indian's third successive win over Okuhara. “Something went right today,” Nehwal told the BWF website after the match. With the help of ally-turned-coach Parupalli Kashyap, Nehwal was able to clear the hurdles with ease in the opening rounds.

However, Nehwal could not conjure up the same response against a fitter Marin in the quarter-finals. The Spaniard was sharper and quicker in her approach, leaving no room for Nehwal to attack. However, despite the loss, the Indian ace had a good run in Kuala Lumpur after a tiring end to 2018, which included marriage and the Premier Badminton League.

Kento Momota-Tai Tzu Ying exit early

There were a handful of upsets in Kuala Lumpur.

Men’s singles top seed Kento Momota lost a 74-minute battle with compatriot Kenta Nishimoto, who saved a match point to win 21-15, 14-21, 22-20 in the first round.

In women’s singles, world junior champion Goh Jin Wei gave the home crowd much cause for cheer with her first victory in six matches against third seed Akane Yamaguchi (Japan). Goh wrapped up the match in just 32 minutes, 21-14 21-12. The teenager would then go on to beat He Bingjiao of China to further prove her worth to the women's circuit.

In the quarter-finals, World No 1 Tai Tzu Ying was humbled by Ratchanok Intanon in straight games. Interestingly, Intanon beat her in last year’s final — one of only two finals losses that the Chinese Taipei superstar suffered in ten overall summit clashes last year.

Error-free Ratchanok 

Intanon successfully defended her title in the capital city of Malaysia with elan and... without dropping a single game. That's some domination. Before smothering Marin in the final, the Thai shuttler proved too hot to handle for all her opponents, including World No 1 Tai Tzu Ying in the quarter-finals. Gregoria Mariska Tunjung, Chloe Birch, Tai Tzu Ying, Goh Jin Wei were all beaten to the dust by Intanon and she continued the gallant run in the final by taking the opening game 21-9 against the fast-paced, belligerent Marin.

The Spaniard tried to claw back into the match after being down 12-18, but Intanon reacted quickly to deny a decider and retain the title in straight games. There are only a few players who can move as quickly as Marin. Not only did the 23-year-old match up to Marin's pacey gameplay but also fought fire with fire in both the games for a well-deserved victory.

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Updated Date: Jan 21, 2019 21:18:37 IST

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