Badminton: Chen exit clears path for Lee in Malaysia

Above: File photo of Malaysia's Lee Chong Wei

KUALA LUMPUR - World number one Lee Chong Wei's march to the Malaysia Open title appeared unstoppable after Chinese archrival Chen Long crashed out in the quarter-finals on Friday.

Malaysia's Lee, who had no trouble brushing past Chen's eighth-seeded compatriot Du Pengyu 21-9, 21-15, said he is feeling confident after his quick 34-minute win.

Asked about world number two Chen, who defeated him at the Korea Open last week, Lee just smiled and said: "I always try my best to win every tournament I enter.

"It is no different here, but as I always say, I will take it one match at a time and now I have to focus on my semifinal opponent."

Chen, who has struggled to find his form in balmy Malaysia after a stellar performance in Korea, complained about not being at his best.

For the third straight day he dropped the opening set, and failed to subdue Japan's Kenichi Tago in a 18-21, 21-9, 10-21 loss.

"I was not feeling well and was not at 100 per cent after the Korea Open," said Chen, who headed into Malaysia on the back of four straight wins over Lee.

"The weather in Korea was so cold but here it is so hot. The change in temperature took a toll on my body."

He also complained that the Malaysian crowd were against him, saying "everyone wants to beat us Chinese".

Fifth seed Tago, for his part, said it "looked like Chen Long was struggling" and that gave him the confidence to take the game to his opponent.

Asked if he thinks he can finally win a Superseries title, Tago said: "It will be hard here with Chong Wei having the homeground advantage, but I will try."

The tournament has seen several upsets with the women's world champion Ratchanok Intanon ousted on the opening day.

On Thursday the men's doubles champions Muhammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan were eliminated, leaving mixed pair Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir as the only world champions in the quarter-finals.

The Malaysia Open, which ends on Sunday, is one of 12 Superseries tournaments on the Badminton World Federation calendar.

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