Tuesday March 12, 2013
Road to world title full of pitfalls for Chong Wei
By RAJES PAUL
BIRMINGHAM: World No. 1 Lee Chong Wei’s job to become Malaysia’s first world champion at the World Championships in August has just become harder and tougher.
On Sunday, energetic Chen Long of China destroyed Chong Wei’s hopes of a third All-England title with his sizzling attacking game to win 21-17, 21-18 in an intense men’s singles final at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham.
With his excellent court coverage, deadly smashes and tight netplay en route to winning his first All-England crown, the 24-year-old Chen Long proved that he is now as dangerous as his senior Lin Dan, the two-time Olympic champion.
And there are also others that can pose a threat to Chong Wei.
The 25-year-old Jan O Jorgensen – another striking and solid attacking player from Denmark – reached the All-England semi-finals to prove that he is shaping up well to assume the place vacated by retired Peter-Gade Christensen.
Qualifier Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk of Thailand also showed promise while Hong Kong’s Wong King Ki and India’s P. Kashyap are also players to look out for.
National singles coach Tey Seu Bock admitted that Chong Wei’s road to the world title is full of pitfalls.
“We knew that it would not be easy for Chong Wei even without Lin Dan around at the All-England. Chen Long proved to us how serious he was in wanting to beat Chong Wei,” said Seu Bock.
“There are other Chinese youngsters like Du Pengyu that we must not disregard although he lost early here. Other youngsters are also catching up.
“There is some homework for Chong Wei to do after this. We will do some video analyses on Chen Long and Jorgensen’s matches. To me, both of them played exceptionally well in this All-England.
“Chong Wei’s next tournament is the Australian Open (April 2-7). He has to play because of sponsorship obligation. He is not playing the Axiata Cup. His wife is expecting and may deliver at the end of April or early May and he may skip the India Open (April 23-28). It all depends. Being a father will give him another new responsibility. But I believe he knows how to handle it.”
Chong Wei has vowed to be a stronger player after the All-England defeat.
“I will not let this defeat demoralise me. I am down but not out. All players are after my head but I will be ready for them,” said Chong Wei.
On Malaysia’s second echelon players like Liew Daren, Chong Wei Feng and Mohd Arif Abdul Latif who failed to clear their early round matches, Chong Wei came to their defence.
“Daren played well although he lost to Chen Jin of China. He still has to tighten up his game. I hope all our players will continue to push hard during training and stay free of injuries,” he said.
Daren, Wei Feng and Arif will get a chance to make up for the disappointments by doing well in the Swiss Open, which begins tomorrow in Basel.
Men’s singles: Chen Long (Chn) bt Lee Chong Wei (Mas) 21-17, 21-18. Men’s doubles: Liu Xiaolong-Qiu Zihan (Chn) bt Hiroyuki Endo-Kenichi Hayakawa (Jpn) 21-11, 21-9.
Women’s singles: Tine Baun (Den) bt Ratchanok Intanon (Tha) 21-14, 16-21, 21-10.
Women’s doubles: Wang Xiaoli-Yu Yang (Chn) bt Cheng Shu-Zhao Yunlei (Chn) 21-18, 21-10.
Mixed doubles: Tontowi Ahmad-Lilyana Natsir (Ina) bt Zhang Nan-Zhao Yunlei (Chn) 21-13, 21-17.