ALL ENGLAND 2011 Finals – Even sweeter victory for Chong Wei

Lee Chong Wei kept his title in Birmingham but this victory was probably even sweeter than his maiden gold at the Yonex All England. This time, he beat the best […]

Lee Chong Wei kept his title in Birmingham but this victory was probably even sweeter than his maiden gold at the Yonex . This time, he beat the best player of all time – Super Dan –  in the final he led from start to finish.

By Raphael Sachetat, live from Birmingham.  Photos: Badmintonphoto (live)

It was clearly a show.  The players entered with songs hitting the charts all over the world, with lighting effects, an audience ready for a great evening and an NIA Stadium filled with spectators eager to see the clash of the week between Lee Chong Wei and Lin Dan. This special match had been on everyone’s minds since the draws were released since Lee and Lin, the two arch-rivals, had been drawn on either side of the competition. Lee had warned that after winning his first title here, he was clearly going to enjoy the evening, not pressuring himself while Lin Dan had shown glimpses of weaknesses in the semi-final, just before attempting to enter history by becoming the first Chinese player to clinch a fifth title in the event.

If some jiayou‘s were shouted from time to time, the singing and dancing Malaysian colony way up in the stands made much more noise and had more opportunities to cheer for their hero: Lee Chong Wei was simply playing the perfect game while Lin Dan, in good form but not as incisive as usual, was struggling to put the shuttles down. Chong Wei, patient and relying on his incredible defence, was banking on his stamina and great knowledge of his opponent’s game.  After more than 15 meetings, the Malaysian knew that the Chinese had to play his very best to beat him and that what he had seen from Lin this week could mean he would get a second consecutive title.

The first game was very close with great rallies, accurate net play, smart clears, and big attacks but the Malaysian was able to come on top while Lin was obviously not happy with his speed – his usual rally-enders from the back were often caught by the Malaysian. The rallies were tighter than the score showed when Chong Wei led 17-11, but the Malaysian had taken too big of a margin to lose the first game, which he pocketed 21-17.

Lee led most of the second game, with one or two points advantage until Lin caught back at 17-17, and tried to accelerate the pace of the game, bringing excitement to the Chinese fans. But a few mistakes and very solid play from Chong Wei saw the Malaysian come out on top with a similar score in the second game, 21-17 . He fell on his knees and embraced his coaches before going to see Lin Dan already packing his stuff and getting a warm hug from his main opponent. The Chinese had his head down as he knew there was no solution for him against Chong Wei and was later to admit that he was not the best on court today.

Chong Wei played very well and on my end, I have played too many matches at home for the Chinese league and in Germany then here. I just didn’t have the motivation or the will to fight more than I did,” said Lin Dan.

For Chong Wei, this victory may taste even sweeter than last year’s – then, the Malaysian had not beaten Lin Dan, a player he considers to be the only one he can’t beat on cue.

I am very pleased to have beaten Lin Dan today.  It is always special to beat him in any tournament. This All England title is something special to me after I won it last year for the first time.  I will be attempting to win my third title next year. But before that, of course, I will try to win the World Championships here in England,” he told the press after receiving a phone call from the Prime Minister of Malaysia, who had stayed up to watch the game back home.

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Raphaël Sachetat

About Raphaël Sachetat

Raphael is the Chief Editor of Badzine International. He is the founder of the website together with Jean François Chauveau. After many years writing for the BWF and many publications around the world about badminton, he now leads a team of young and dynamic writers for Badzine.