Lee Zii Jia has become Asia’s new champion after beating Jonatan Christie 21-17, 23-21 in an explosive men’s singles final to capture the Badminton Asia Championships on Sunday.
Lee’s victory made up for the disappointment of the men’s doubles final, which saw Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik lose tamely to Indonesian pair Pramudya Kusumawardana-Yeremia Erich 21-23, 10-21.
The victory was Lee’s second major title since the All-England crown he won last year.
The 45-minute success also meant Lee became the first Malaysian to win the BAC in six years, since Lee Chong Wei last achieved it in 2016.
The final was a showdown of two highly offensive shuttlers and it started off predictably close, with Lee pulling the strings to dictate proceedings but at the same time leaving gaps for Christie to exploit and the keep Malaysian within sight.
Lee led 11-9, and like in the semi-finals, upped the tempo after he surpassed the 14-point mark with his signature cross-court smashes to take the lead at 21-17.
Christie needed a bright start in the second game, and the Indonesian duly did so by taking the game to Lee as both shuttlers engaged in fast, flat exchanges with the longest rally stretching to 20 shots.
Two unforced errors by Christie as the interval approached meant Lee took a 11-10 lead, which he soon extended to 19-16 by finding winners from almost his smashes.
But the world number seven allowed unforced errors to creep in, and Christie amazingly recovered to hold match points at 20-19 and 21-20.
Lee hung on through sheer composure, drawing level before sealing his first title this year as he watched Christie’s return flick drop wide.
The Indonesian contested the decision, but it was in vain as Lee slumped to the floor in sheer ecstasy to cap a triumphant tournament.
Chia-Soh meanwhile would be left ruing a lost in concentration after appearing to have control of the first game, which they threw away in the late stages to a battling Kusumawardana-Erich.
The Indonesians took advantage to cruise to victory courtesy of an all-out attack in the second game with Chia-Soh having no answers, and ultimately having to wait longer for their first major title.
China swept the rest of the titles in the women’s doubles, mixed doubles and women’s singles.
Wang Zhi Yi delivered the first victory after stunning top seed Akane Yamaguchi 15-21, 21-13, 21-19 for the women’s singles gold medal.
Zheng Si Swei-Huang Ya Qiong then swept aside Wang Yi Lyu-Huang Dong Ping 21-17, 21-8 for the mixed doubles title, before Cheng Qing Chen-Jia Yi Fan made it a hat-trick of victories by brushing aside Japanese pair Rin Iwanaga-Kie Nakanishi in the women’s doubles.