Chen Long of China celebrates after beating Malaysia's Lee Chong Wei in the final of the badminton World Championships in Denmark on Sunday. - AFP
COPENHAGEN: It was yet another heartbreak for world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei.
After playing brilliantly for the last few days, Chong Wei lost his sharpness and went down 19-21, 19-21 to Chen Long of China in a 69-minute men’s singles final at the World Championships in Bellarup Super Arena.
It was his eighth attempt to get his act right but with another defeat, Malaysia’s chase for a world title continues.
Malaysia have never won the title since the tournament’s inception in 1977.
It was his third final appearance in the World Championships after losing in last two against Lin Dan in Wembley (2011) and Guangzhou (2013).
Ironically, Chong Wei has also never beaten Chen Long on Danish soil – having lost to the lanky Chinese in the finals of the 2011 and 2013 Denmark Opens. It now puts the head-to-head record between them at 9-9.
Chong Wei was devastated – especially when he wanted so much to deliver the goods on his beloved country’s national day.
Malaysia celebrated her independence on Sunday, Aug 31.
“I am disappointed with the way I played today. I guess my fans are also disappointed. I am sorry. I wanted so much to win it – but Chen Long was too aggressive,” said Chong Wei.
Indeed, Chong Wei’s opponent on Sunday was not the same Chen Long, who lost miserably to Kenichi Tago in the semi-final tie against Japan at the Thomas Cup Finals in May - or even the same player who lost to Chong Wei in the All-England final this year.
He was pumped up, eager and full of fire – and as a result his attacks were explosive and his defense was solid.
He opened the gap in the first game – racing to a 13-9 and 16-9 lead – before Chong Wei mustered enough strength and courage to level it at 19-19.
But Chen Long nicked it and that gave him a huge dose of confidence to take a huge 10-4 lead in the second game.
Chong Wei woke up from the spell and tried to steady the sinking ship but Chen Long kept his relentless attack to destroy Chong Wei’s dream of his first world title.
“I tried…but he was returning all my shots. I tried to break his rhythm and open up the game. I tried to play patiently but I was making some simple mistakes. He was just unstoppable,” he said.
When asked whether he had enough of trying to be the world champion, he was quiet for a while before saying: “It is getting frustrating but I will try to get it until I retire from this sport.”
“For now, my aim is to bounce back from this defeat and get ready for the Asian Games and the 2016 Rio de Janeiro (Olympics),” added Chong Wei.