ALL ENGLAND 2013 R32 – Lee Chong Wei struggles in round 1

On a day of big upsets, arguably the biggest shock was only narrowly avoided as Lee Chong Wei, world number 1 scraped past Wong Wing Ki of Hong Kong in […]

On a day of big upsets, arguably the biggest shock was only narrowly avoided as Lee Chong Wei, world number 1 scraped past Wong Wing Ki of Hong Kong in three sets.

By Michael Burke, Badzine Correspondent, live from Birmingham.  Photos: Yohan Nonotte for Badmintonphoto (live).

As the only remaining Malaysian representative in the men’s singles and with the added pressure of expectation with Lin Dan withdrawal, Lee Chong Wei (pictured left) looked out of sorts in his first match at this year’s . The head to head record of 3-0 in favour of the Malaysian seemingly counted for nothing as Wong outshone Lee early on, taking him the full distance for the first time.

Wong Wing Ki (pictured below) came out all guns blazing as he played like a man inspired, leaving Lee dazed by the strong attack. Leading from the off, Wong dominated the net and powered through with smashes, the pressure causing Lee to make uncharacteristic errors as the gap grew only wider. To the surprise of the crowd, the man from Hong Kong took the first end with the commanding score of 13-21.

To calm the crowd somewhat, albeit temporarily, Lee then proceeded to cruise through the second game, taking a 15-0 lead seemingly without effort. Whether by a loss of concentration or trouble adjusting to the drift on court, Wong looked a different man and having conceded such a score, it was too much for him to come back, the game ending not long after 21-6.

The third end however was altogether a different affair. When Wong recovered from 17-12 down, it was no longer a domination of one over the other and the crowd sensed, on a day of upsets, that something big could happen.

Wong started to play as he had in the first and Lee could only keep with him. The game looked done, when defending for match point Lee lifted to the mid court only for Wong to drive it hard into the net. Using a generous helping of extra points, Lee was able to overcome this stern test in the early round, the score in the final round 23-21.

Speaking to the media afterwards, Lee laughed nervously and spoke of his opponent: “I have never seen him [Wong Wing Ki] play like that before. He was attacking strongly, going for everything and smashing well. I was very lucky to come through. When he is 20-12 and he hits it out or he hit his smash into the net, it was lucky. I knew that was the deciding moment, God was on my side.”

He spoke of his prospects for the rest of the tournament, “For a top player the first match is the real determining factor. I’m glad not to have been one of the casualties of the first round. I hope to play much better after this, and being the only Malaysian left in the draw is extra motivation for me.”

The full results for the day can be found here.

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About Michael Burke