Shon Wan Ho, Li Xuerui clinch India Open singles titles

New Delhi: Olympic-bound shuttler Shon Wan Ho of Korea showcased a stunning display of true grit to shock defending champion Lee Chong Wei in the summit clash and clinch his maiden Super Series title, at the India Open badminton tournament on Sunday.

The world number 17, who had earned his ticket to London after beating former All England champion Peter Gade in the quarterfinals, showed nerves of steel as he edged past the world number one 21-18 14-21 21-19 in the men`s singles summit clash, which lasted for an hour and six minutes.

In the women`s singles, sixth seed German Juliane Schenk gave a mighty scare to world number four Li Xuerui before losing 21-14 17-21 8-21 in the final, which lasted for 47 minutes.

Egged by a sporting crowd at the Siri Fort Complex, Shon Wan opened up a 9-4 lead in the first game and even though the experienced Lee tried to catch up at 12-12 and moved neck-and-neck till 18-18, the Korean held his fort.

In the second game, Lee gathered himself and surged ahead to a 7-1 lead. Shon clawed back at 12-12 with the help of his razor-sharp smashes. However, the world number one didn`t allow the Korean to bounce back.

In the decider, Shon lead 11-7 at the interval. Lee soon started inducing Shon to commit mistakes. The Malaysian varied the pace and occasionally used his smashes to finish off the points to lead at 19-18. However, the Korean was not the one to let go off the opportunity. He involved Lee in net play and wrested back control at 20-19. Serving for the match, Shon took his time. In anticipation, Lee rushed with his return and found the net as Shon burst into celebration. Shon was delighted after the triumph.

"This is my best performance, my first Super Series victory and I am happy. I had qualified for the Olympics after beating Peter Gade in the quarterfinal and it is a special feeling. I beat Lee Chong Wei today and anything can happen in the Olympics, Shon said.

"I had nothing to lose and I was confident. He gets a bit nervous playing the Koreans and my strokes and defence were brilliant. I have played him many times, but it is my first victory. I think the record is 1-4 now. I was more in control of the match and my net play was also good.

"I took some time before serving at 20-19 as I knew he looks to attack. He was trailing in the match and so I held my nerves, I knew I can do this. I will next play in the Thomas Cup and then in Singapore and Indonesia," he signed off.

Lee Chong Wei was gracious in defeat and said even though he lost the title, he was happy with his performance.

"I am happy with my performance. I played well. I had to be a bit careful in the tournament with my shoulder as I was playing for the first time after my injury. But there is nothing to worry, everything is fine. I just tried to enjoy the game and have some fun," Lee said.

"Shon played exceptionally well. He made many upsets in the tournament coming into the finals. He beat all the top players. I didn`t expect him to play so well. At 19-18 I missed some easy points.

"I know I lost but its okay. I have three months to prepare for the Olympics. I will play the Thomas Cup, Indonesia. I am happy to be in the final of the India Open. I didn`t think too much," he added.

In the women`s singles, world number eight Juliane started off well but ran out of stem in the end.

In the first game, the German engaged her opponent in long rallies and forced her to commit errors to lead 11-7 at the break and kept her nose ahead to lead 1-0. In the second game, nothing seemed to go Juliane`s way as she lagged 0-8 initially and even though Juliane reduced the gap to 16-17 by mixing her strokes and using her drops to perfection, she couldn`t stop Li from bouncing back into contention.

In the decider, Li led 11-5 at the break to leave Juliane frustrated. After the breather, Li registered six straight points to extend the lead to 17-5. Juliane seemed clueless as the Chinese moved to the match point in a jiffy, before sealing it comfortably with a smash to record her fourth victory over the German. "I showed that I have the skills and strength and I was mentally at my top but suddenly there were some slight errors in my net play and defence and it is clear that I have to work harder," Juliane said.

"Even in the end of the first game I had my chances but I have to give her the respect, she played very well. I tried my best. I have the power but I have to step up my game," she added.

Asked about her Olympic plans, Juliane said: "In june, I will play in Indonesia and Singapore. I am already in Olympic feeling and I believe anything is possible, that is my vision and it is all about how I manage myself."

Among other matches, in women`s doubles, sixth seeds Kyung Eun Jung and Ha Na Kim of Korea notched up a 21-17 21-18 victory over Chinese pair of Yixin Bao and Qianxin Zhong to clinch the title.

Second seeded Indonesian pair of Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir also won a thriller, against fifth seeds Sudket Prapakamol and Saralee Thoungthongkam of Thailand, 21-16 12-21 21-14 in 55 minutes to lift the mixed doubles title.

In the men`s doubles, the Thai pair of Bodin Issara and Maneepong Jongjit saw off second seeds Sung Hyun Ko and Yeon Seong Yoo of Korea 21-17 14-21 21-14 to emerge victories.


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