PETALING JAYA: The expectations were high but when it came to the crunch, Lee Chong Wei and Choong Tan Fook-Lee Wan Wah crumbled in their respective finals in the Hong Kong Open badminton championships at the Queen Elizabeth Stadium yesterday.
World number one Chong Wei lost 19-21, 21-8, 16-21 to China's top seed Lin Dan in the men's singles while Tan Fook-Wan Wah fell 24-22, 16-21, 20-22 to Indonesia's Markis Kido-Hendra Setiawan in the men's doubles.
ONE UP: Lin Dan of China pulls his shirt over his head as he celebrates his victory over Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei duringthe Hong Kong Open badminton championship final yesterday. Lin Dan won 21-19, 8-21, 21-16. – AFPpic
Yesterday, Chong Wei failed to get the psychological boost he wanted over his closest rival ahead of the World Championships in Madrid, Spain on Sept 18-24.
With the hard earned win in the men's singles final, Lin Dan has now extended his 2006 record against Chong Wei to 4-1.
The Malaysian's only triumph came in the Malaysian Open final in Kuching in June and he has yet to beat the Chinese ace outside Malaysia.
Lin Dan's other victories came in the finals of the Macau and Taiwan Opens and the semi-finals of the All-England Championships.
In the final, Chong Wei raced to a 19-17 lead in the first game but froze at the vital moment to allow his opponent to take four straight points.
The Malaysian made amends by taking full control of the second game and allowed the Chinese to collect only eight points before forcing the tie into the rubber.
But mistakes started creeping into Chong Wei's game and despite putting up a good defence, he gave away too many easy points and Lin Dan clinched a second straight Hong Kong Open title.
Despite the defeat, Chong Wei can take comfort from the fact that he still leads Lin Dan in the IBF world rankings and will start as the top seed in Madrid.
Tan Fook and Wan Wah, meanwhile, received a ticking off from national doubles coach Rexy Mainaky for handing the Indonesians their first title of the year.
An angry Rexy, who is in Kuala Lumpur, rang his doubles players in Hong Kong immediately after the final to voice his displeasure.
The Malaysians almost lost the first game when they threw away a comfortable 13-5 lead and were made to slog before prevailing 24-22.
Kido and Setiawan edged the second game 21-16 but found themselves trailing in the decider.
But the Malaysians failed to sustain their 13-8 lead and threw away two match points to lose the tie 20-22.
They (Tan Fook and Wan Wah) played well until they led 13-8 in the third game, said Rexy.
Then, they changed their tactics and played as if they were already the champions.
The problem is that they think too far ahead even before the game is over and I was angry, especially with Tan Fook, as Malaysia should have won the men's doubles title easily, he added.
It was a no-show in the women's singles final as world number one Zhang Ning conceded a walkover to compatriot and second seed Xie Xingfang without stepping on the court.
SHAKEN BUT NOT STIRRED: Malaysian Lee Chong Wei disputes a call with game officials during the Hong Kong Open final match against Lin Dan of China. He was rattled and went on to lose 19-21,21-8, 16-21. – AFPpic
There was an upset in the all-China women's doubles final when second seeds Yang Wei-Zhang Jiewen toppled the top seeds Gao Ling-Huang Sui 21-19, 15-21, 21-19.
Zheng Bo-Zhao Tingting ensured China took four of the five Hong Kong Open titles at stake by defeating Indonesia's Nova Widianto-Liliyana Natsir 22-20, 21-19 to capture the mixed doubles crown.