Lin Dan wins Malaysia Open to end title drought

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Kuala Lumpur: Chinese badminton ace Lin Dan clinched the Malaysia Open Sunday after an electric performance against countryman Chen Long to claim his first major title in two years.

The win comes after the five-time world champion made several early round exits since January, including at the Indonesia Masters, German Open and the All-England.

But in a nail-biting 78-minute match, the world number 16 smashed his way back to victory with a final score that tallied 9-21, 21-7, 21-11.

Speaking to reporters afterwards, Lin said his game against two-time world champion Chen was a sign that his spate of bad luck was finally over.

“My performance last year was not ideal, and I was under a lot of pressure and even doubted myself,” he said.

“But here in Malaysia, I was determined to play well and was hungry for victory ... I think the bad times are over.”

It was a game that saw Lin up against an in-form Chen, who got breezed through the Open impressively in a series of straight matches.

But the 35-year-old Lin, five years Chen’s senior, dictated the pace by working his opponent with deft netplay and his trademark ferocious front court smash.

The title is Lin’s first win this year, and also his first major success since taking the Malaysia Open in 2017.

The two-time Olympic gold medallist received a $49,000 cash prize presented by his long-time Malaysian rival Lee Chong Wei, who sat out the Open over his cancer recovery.

Lin said he hoped to meet Lee on court again, as both men prepare for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Lee has been on the sidelines since July last year, when he was diagnosed with early-stage nose cancer, and is seeking to make a full recovery.

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