25 Nov – Wong Mew Choo has finally proved that she could be a World Champion in the China Open Super Series held in Guangzhou, China between 20 to 25 November 2007. It was no easy task as the entire passage to the finals looked like a “who’s who lineup” in the ladies badminton world. Wong ranked no 8 in the world, who has only won the South East Asian Games title in 2003, was not even seeded for the China Open Super Series. No one expected her to do well. It was an insult that the organizers seeded Petya Nedelcheva the world no 10 from Bulgaria ahead of Wong. Petya Nedelcheva lost in the first round proving the organisers were wrong in their seeding.
Wong had an easy warm up against China’s Zhu Jingjing (World No 56) in the first round. Then she took on Pi Hongyan, a Chinese born French who is the World No 5 and winner of 13 tournaments. Pi is also the runner up in this year’s All England Championship. Wong won the passage to the quarter finals in 3 sets.
At the quarter finals, Wong faced Chinese and World No 3, Zhu Lin who has won 5 tournaments including the World Championship this year. It was another 3 sets thriller and Wong managed to subdue Zhu for the right to play in the semi finals.
At the semi finals, Wong’s next opponent was Zhang Ning from China who is the World No 2 and winner of 22 tournaments which is the most wins by a single player amongst the currently playing women players. To add to that impressive record, Zhang has beaten Wong on all 7 previous meetings. Wong upset the records and surprised Zhang with a 2 set win to proceed to the finals.
It was only fitting that she took on the World No 1 Xie Xingfang in the finals.
Xie Xingfang has engraved her name as the winner in 16 tournaments. Xie’s illustrated career record and her mere presence in the court standing tall at 1.78 meters would scare away any lesser players but Wong at 1.64 meters, who has not won any major tournaments in her career, had nothing to lose, rose to the occasion. It was a case of David versus Goliath in Women’s badminton. It took 3 sets and 62 minutes for Wong to complete her fairy tale ending. Wong has now proven that she can beat the best.
Can she continue to do it?
Unfortunately, 2 days later Wong seeded 8th was sent crashing down to earth at the very first round of the Hong Kong Open where she lost to Thailand’s Salakjit Ponsana who is ranked 36th in the world.
Where will Wong Mew Choo go from here? Everyone would definitely hope that we see a new Nicol David in the making. Will she suffer the Malaysian Badminton syndrome where players win single tournaments and then fade into oblivion? Perhaps she should get some lessons from Nicol David on how to stay at the top.
What ever the future holds for Wong Mew Choo, I think she has done a fantastic job at the China Open Super Series. She deserves all the credit for her hard work and sacrifice all these years. Now that she has proven that she can take on the best in the world, I hope that she can continue forward and be a world champion.
Congratulations, Wong Mew Choo. I wish you all the best!