Badminton star Nguyen Tien Minh beat Japanese rival Sho Sasaki to win the men's singles championship at the 2011 Vietnam Open Grand Prix in Ho Chi Minh City on Sunday.
It took the 7th-ranked top seed Vietnamese 40 minutes to defeat the 9th-ranked second seeded Japanese 21-13, 21-17.
It was Minh's first international championship so far this year, and it was his third title at the Yonex-Sunrise Vietnam Open Grand Prix, which he won in 2008 and 2009 as well.
The Sunday clash between Vietnam's hero and Japan's ace attracted a huge crowd of home fans that filled the 2,000-seat stadium at Phan Dinh Phung Sports Center.
Home fans expected Minh to defeat Sasaki, who had beat Minh at the US Open last month and dethroned Minh in the quarters of the Australian Open in April.
The Sunday final was expected to be a bit easier for the Vietnamese star since he had cruised past his other rivals in straight sets, while the Japanese star had struggled against in earlier matches.
Strong support from home fans also boosted national hero Minh's spirits. After a strong start, he maintained a lead of four points throughout the game.
But the Japanese competitor staged a minor comeback to make it 9-9 and then 11-11 before the Minh exploded to win the set 21-13.
Minh also took the lead in the second set but Sasaki was not easy to defeat. At one point, Sasaki was leading 13-12 but failed to maintain the advantage.
Minh then scored seven points to lead 19-13 before Sasaki closed in on Minh by scoring four points to make it 17-19. However, Sasaki's attempts were of no avail as Minh scored two more points to win the match.
Speaking after winning the championship, Minh said, "I would like to thank the fans for their strong support at this event. Today I played well although I was in a little trouble near the end of the second set when Sasaki scored several points in a row.
"Yet I managed to overcome the most difficult moments to win the championship. I still have several important tasks ahead this year, one of which is to win a medal at the 26th South East Asian Games [in Jakarta]."
In the women's singles event at the week-long Vietnam Open 2011, 41st-ranked Singaporean player Mingtian Fu took the championship after struggling past the 49th-ranked Japanese Kaori Imabeppu 21-18, 16-21, 21-8 in the final game.