LIN Dan buried the ghost of 2005 after producing a pulsating 18-21, 21-17, 21-12 victory over compatriot Bao Chunlai to be crowned the 2006 world badminton men’s singles champion in Madrid yesterday.
The Chinese ace fell in the final to Indonesian Taufik Hidayat when he was given the top billing in Anaheim, the United States, last year.
But there was no stopping the second seed, who is expected to recapture the top spot in the world rankings, in the battle between the left-handers yesterday.
Although both finalists were from China, there was no love lost in the final as each player tried his best to stake claim to the world title.
Chunlai, who had knocked top seed Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia out of the competition en route to the final, made a great start with his commanding control of the court.
The world number eight, who has been in scorching form throughout the tournament, had the pre-tournament favourite Lin Dan scurrying all over the court to return his well-placed shots and won the first game 21-18.
But Lin Dan, who is known as a slow starter, turned on the power at 17-17 in the second game to reel off four consecutive points and force the match into a third set.
It was all Lin Dan in the third game as he romped home with a comfortable 21-12 win.
The newly-crowned world champion acknowledged that he owed it to his teammates Chunlai and Chen Hong for helping to clear the path in the draw for him.
“I won my world title without beating any one of my main opponents from the other countries.
“And I have to thank my teammates for that. Today, it was not just a victory for myself but also one for China’s badminton,” said Lin Dan.
“I am happy to have reached my lifetime goal of becoming a world champion. It made up for my heartbreaking loss to Taufik last year.”
Chen Hong, whom Lin Dan defeated in the semi-finals, had ousted both Taufik and Dane Peter-Gade Christensen, the two major threats in the bottom half of the draw, while Chunlai beat Chong Wei and South Korean Lee Hyun-il.
“Although I did not become the world champion, I am still happy because a Chinese player won the title. A mistake at 17-17 in the second game cost me dearly and it turned out to be the turning point in the final,” said Chunlai.
China earned their second title of the day and third in the championships when Xie Xingfang, Lin Dan’s girlfriend, beat compatriot Zhang Ning 21-16, 21-14 to win the women’s singles crown. Xingfang also beat 2003 champion Zhang Ning in last year’s final.
Fu Haifeng-Cai Yun then gave China’s their fourth crown when they easily defeated Anthony Clark-Robert Blair 21-9, 21-13 in the men’s doubles final.
In the mixed doubles final, Nathan Robertson-Gail Emms extended their six-year unbeaten streak against another English pair when they defeated Clark-Donna Kellogg 21-15, 21-12 in the mixed doubles final.
But the English number one pair admitted that the win was not as easy as the scoreline suggested.
“It was fantastic to have an all-English final, but strange and difficult to be playing the people we train against and share rooms with. But we definitely did not treat the final as a practice match,” said Robertson.
Earlier on Saturday, China picked up their first title when Gao Ling-Huang Sui emerged as the women’s doubles champions. The top seeds defeated compatriots Zhang Yawen-Wei Yili 23-21, 21-9.
Final: Lin Dan (Chn) bt Bao Chunlai (Chn) 18-21, 21-17, 21-12.
Semi-finals: Anthony Clark-Robert Blair (Eng) bt Lars Paaske-Jonas Rasmussen (Den) 23-21, 17-21, 21-17.
Final: Fu Haifeng-Cai Yun (Chn) bt Anthony Clark-Robert Blair (Eng) 21-9, 21-13.
Final: Xie Xingfang (Chn) bt Zhang Ning (Chn) 21-18, 21-14.
Final: Gao Ling-Huang Sui (Chn) bt Zhang Yawen-Wei Yili (Chn) 23-21, 21-9.
Final: Nathan Robertson-Gail Emms (Eng) bt Anthony Clark-Donna Kellogg (Eng) 21-15, 21-12.