Inconsistent Chong Wei shown early exit in China

PETALING JAYA: For the third time this year, Lee Chong Wei crashed out in early rounds after enjoying a high in a previous tournament.

The world No. 1 won the Hong Kong Open last Sunday but he was brought down to earth with a heavy thud in the opening round of the China Open in Shanghai yesterday. He was beaten 6-21, 21-13, 17-21 by Jan O Jorgensen of Denmark.

It is certainly a horrible outing for Chong Wei, who was the runner-up to China’s Lin Dan in the same tournament last year. It was also the first defeat by Jorgensen, who is now seen as a new jewel of Danish badminton.

When Chong Wei claimed the Hong Kong Open title for the first time, it was hailed as a splendid effort, especially when it was his first tournament in six weeks after taking a break to recover from a knee injury.

But as in twice before, he fell flat after enjoying a high.

In March, he beat Lin Dan to win the Swiss Open title but a week later, he was sent packing by Chen Long of China in the opening round in India Open.

In May, Chong Wei was in top form, winning all his matches in the Sudirman Cup world mixed team championships in Guangzhou, including a win over Lin Dan. But in the Singapore Open three weeks later, he was beaten in the second round by Nguyen Tien Minh of Vietnam.

The 27-year-old Chong Wei said that he could not pick up his pace throughout the match.

“Today I could not increase my speed and I felt a bit stiff and I could not help it,” he said.

“Jorgensen is a good player. In the world championships, he defeated Park Sung-hwan (of South Korea) and in Denmark Open, he beat Peter-Gade (Christensen, his senior). He played well today and I was too cautious against him.”

National coach Misbun Sidek took Chong Wei’s defeat in his stride.

“Every time, Chong Wei wins a title, he become the main target of everyone. Today, he certainly did not expect a strong challenge from Jorgensen,” said Misbun in a telephone interview.

“The Dane was in extraordinary form and Chong Wei had no answer to his deceptive shots.”

After managing only six points in the opening game, Chong Wei hauled himself back in the second to force a decider.

But Jorgensen was back in charge when he raced to a 15-8 lead in the rubber and shrugged off a late charge from the Malaysian.

“This Danish player had become more confident and shown improvement in his game. In fact, he hardly showed any respect to Chong Wei,” said Misbun. “After enjoying a high, Chong Wei could not react with the same momentum against a surprise package like Jorgensen. We will have to look into this.”

Misbun added that he would discuss with the Badminton Association of Malaysia on whether to field Chong Wei in the Super Series Masters Finals in Johor Baru (Dec 2-6) and the Laos SEA Games (Dec 10-17).

But Malaysia’s challenge is still alive in the men’s singles when veteran Wong Choong Hann made it to the second round with a 21-15, 21-16 win over Hong Kong’s Hu Yun. But he will face an uphill task against Sung-hwan today.

In the women’s singles, Wong Mew Choo will take on top seed Wang Yihan of China for a place in the quarter-finals.

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