KUALA LUMPUR: Defending champion Lee Chong Wei ran out steam against his bogeyman Lin Dan in the second round of the Japan Open in Tokyo.
Chong Wei went down 17-21, 10-21 in 46 minutes for his second blow in a month, having been sent packing by China’s Chen Long in the final of the World Championships in Jakarta.
Against Lin Dan, former world No. 1 Chong Wei got off to a good start – taking an 11-7 lead against the five-time world champion.
But Lin Dan, as usual, refused to give up and made a remarkable comeback to take the opener.
A demoralised Chong Wei tried to change the tempo in the second game but to no avail as a fired-up Lin Dan won for the 25th time in their 34 meetings.
Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) technical director Morten Frost attributed Chong Wei’s defeat to his poor net play – especially in the second game.
“Lin Dan played a very good match and raised his game,” said Frost.
“Chong Wei still lacks match practice and match fitness. He could not get his net play going today.”
The Japan Open is only Chong Wei’s sixth tournament for the year since his eight-month doping suspension ended.
Frost, however, is optimistic.
“There are about eight months before the Olympic Games in Rio. There are many more tournaments ahead for Chong Wei ... he will only get better,” said Frost.
Top doubles shuttlers Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong made up for Chong Wei’s failure by checking into their first quarter-finals in a Superseries this year.
The duo came back from a first game defeat to beat Kim Astrup-Anders Skaarup Rasmussen of Denmark 15-21, 22-20, 21-16 in 63 minutes.
They will take on Indonesia’s Angga Pratama-Ricky Karanda Suwardi for a place in the semi-finals.
“It was a close second game ... they were lucky to win it. It was good to see them finally playing in their first quarter-finals tomorrow.”
Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying’s mixed doubles challenge ended when they went down fighting 15-21, 18-21 to top seeds Zhang Nan-Zhao Yunlei of China in the second round.