The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Hong scoops Singapore Open

Singapore: Super confident All-England champion Chen Hong whipped Ronald Susilo in the men’s final at the Singapore Open badminton tournament on Sunday, saying his rapid fire victory was nothing less than he expected.

“It was really a question of difference in speed. Susilo lacks speed and that is what gave me the edge,” the Chinese player said after racing to a 15-4, 15-1 win over the Singaporean in just 23 minutes.

“I had beaten him easily in all our previous three meetings and I did not expect anything different today. I was always in control,” he said.

In the All-China final of the women’s singles, number two seed Zhou Mi had an equally easy stroll to the winners dais beating defending champion Zhang Ning 11-6, 11-3.

Susilo had proved to be a giant-killer in the early rounds, with an impressive list of scalps including second seed Wong Choong Hann of Malaysia and world champion Hendrawan from Indonesia, but his form came unstuck when it really mattered.

Chen, whose world ranking of 33 is deceptively low because of his limited play in Europe, cleaned up the first game in 14 minutes and took just nine more minutes to wrap up the title, laying down a challenge to would be contenders at the upcoming Asian Games in South Korea.

“I am really pleased with my current form as this was my first tournament after the Japan Open in April where I injured my leg. Now I am fully fit and am preparing hard for the Pusan Asian Games in October,” he said.

Susilo, the number 41 player in the world, said that having beaten a string of higher ranked opponents finally took its toll in the final.

“My mind was blank when I went on court. It was probably because I have played one tough match after another and now finally both my body and my mind were just not up to the challenge,” he said.

The 22-year-old women’s champion Zhou was almost apologetic at having won her final so easily against the 27-year-old Zhang.

“Zhang has been the elder sister of the Chinese women’s badminton team for a few years. I never expected such an easy final. She just had an off day,” said Zhou.

Zhang said the pair practised together. “We know each other’s game too well. I tried to do my best but things just did not happen for me.”

Both are entered to play the women’s singles in the Asian games.

China had a profitable outing in the tournament — Huang Nayan and Yang Wei took the women’s doubles title as well as Chen and Zhou winning the singles — but coach Li Yong Bo was not completely satisfied.

“Our aim here was to prepare for the Pusan Asian Games and although we won three titles I see plenty of room for improvement,” he said.

“All players did well but none was really at their best. We still have the Indonesian Open next week so that we know exactly what areas need to be worked upon during our final camp.”

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