Lee Chong Wei wins Hong Kong Open

Former world number one Lee Chong Wei won his third consecutive Super Series title at the Hong Open on Sunday, defeating China’s Tian Houwei 21-16, 21-15.

Lee Chong Wei claimed his third Super Series title at the Hong Kong Open following wins in the US and China.   -  REUTERS

Former world number one Lee Chong Wei won his third consecutive Super Series title at the Hong Open on Sunday, defeating China’s Tian Houwei 21-16, 21-15.

The Malaysian - who has dominated world badminton for nearly a decade - was forced off court by an eight-month doping ban, which saw him drop out of the world rankings. He returned to court in May, but made early exits from South Korea and Denmark in September and October respectively, prompting some to question whether the 33-year-old was past his prime. Lee has since won three consecutive titles in France, China and Hong Kong, and clawed his way back to sixth position in the world rankings.

But despite his recent performances, the veteran does not think he's at the top of his game, and says he needs to regain some focus - and avoid injury - if he is to make a strong showing at next year's Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

“I know I'm not 100 percent, maybe 85 percent,” Lee said after his win in the southern Chinese city. “I think I lost some concentration and focus,” he added.

Next year's Olympics could be the veteran player's last chance to win a so-far elusive gold. Lee has two silver medals - from London and Beijing - where on both occasions he was beaten to the top podium position by arch-rival Lin Dan of China.

Lee downed badminton legend Lin on route to his victory at the China Open last week, and then went on to beat current world number one Chen Long in the final.

He again overcame China's Chen in the quarter-finals in Hong Kong, but avoided Lin after little-known Angus Ng managed a shock win over the superstar in the second round.

The Hong Kong Open was Lee's final tournament of 2015, and he is now focused on readying himself for next year.

“I am very tired (after) back-to-back tournaments and (now I will) just focus on not (getting any) injury and qualifying (for the Olympics),” he said.

But he was coy about whether that top podium position was on his mind. “I know everyone wants to win gold but I try not to think too much as (the) pressure is too much.”