Badminton: Simon says: Bring on Lee

Badminton: Simon says: Bring on Lee
2009 and 2011 SEA Games men's singles champion Simon Santoso
Simon Santoso of Indonesia returns a shot against Du Pengyu of China during the OUE Singapore Open badminton tournament men semifinal on April 12, 2014. Santoso beat Du 16-21, 21-17, 21-17.

SINGAPORE - He is just one step away from completing a fairy-tale run to become the first qualifier to win the OUE Singapore Open men's singles title.

But unseeded Indonesian Simon Santoso will face a mammoth obstacle in the form of Malaysia's world No. 1 shuttler Lee Chong Wei in today's final at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.

Santoso, ranked 52nd in the world, is relishing the challenge of improving his dismal record of just one win in 10 attempts against Lee.

"It will be good to test myself and see where I stand against the best in the world," said the 28-year-old after he shocked China's world No. 7 Du Pengyu 16-21, 21-17, 21-17 in 73 minutes in front of almost 8,000 spectators yesterday.

"Fitness will not be an issue even though I played two extra qualifiers and had to play three sets today."

After overcoming a sluggish first set, Santoso probed, punched, and pulled his higher-ranked opponent all across the badminton court, making numerous amazing saves and stunning smashes before prevailing. He said: "Du is a very good player who is very hard to finish off. So I had to be patient and and wait for my opportunity."

Santoso's propensity to get his big decisions right has seen the former world No. 3 mount a steady comeback after slipping out of the top 100 following a back injury.

In January, he quit the national team and turned professional in a bid to recover from his rut. The 2009 and 2011 SEA Games men's singles champion then picked up his first title of the year in the Malaysia GP Gold last month, before making another final here.

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