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Friday December 14, 2012

Daren runs out of steam against Chen Long despite good start

LIEW Daren staged a spirited fightback to win the first game – but that was all he could manage against China’s Chen Long in the World Super Series Finals in Shenzhen.

It’s virtually game over for the French Open winner as he suffered his second straight defeat in Group B after going down 25-23, 8-21, 12-21 to world No. 2 Chen Long yesterday.

Daren had earned plenty of admiration after fighting his way back from 9-15 down to take the opening game.

Chen Long was at his best and Daren matched his rival with superb flicks and delightful net plays.

But the spark went missing after that, allowing Chen Long to quickly regain control in the second game.

The rubber was Chen Long all the way as he stormed to victory in 69 minutes to confirm a place in the last four. Chen Long had defeated Hans Kristian Vittinghus of Denmark 20-22, 21-15, 21-11 in his opening match on Wednesday and is the hot pick to claim his first Super Series Finals crown on Sunday following world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei’s withdrawal due to a right thigh injury.

Daren now has only a mathematical chance of qualifying for the last four, provided he beats Vittinghus in straight games today. His fate will then hinge on the points countback.

Japan’s former All-England runner-up Kenichi Tago earlier lost 18-21, 13-21 to Vittinghus but he still has a chance to advance if he can get the better of Chen Long today.

Kenichi had defeated Daren 21-15, 21-18 on Wednesday.

Daren will be ruing the lost opportunity to beat Chen Long for the first time in his career and admitted that fatigue got the better of him.

“There was no pressure as I was trailing quite far behind in the first game.

“I managed to catch up and chase him although he reached match-point first. But that was all I could do.”

“He was very focused in the second game and I could not get past him. I decided to go for it in the rubber but I began to feel tired.

“My fitness is not good ... having played so many tournaments this year,” said the dejected Daren, who made a big breakthrough when he became only the second Malaysian after Chong Wei to win a Super Series title following his French Open triumph in October.

He was fifth in the Super Series rankings, thus earning him a maiden appearance in the finale here.

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