Badminton: Lee Chong Wei says he's not playing at 100% despite 3rd title this year

Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia during the Yonex-Sunrise Badminton Hong Kong open in Hong Kong on Nov 22, 2015.
Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia during the Yonex-Sunrise Badminton Hong Kong open in Hong Kong on Nov 22, 2015. PHOTO: EPA

HONG KONG (AFP) - Former world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei won his third consecutive Super Series badminton title at the Hong Open on Sunday, but he said that he is not playing at his best.

The Malaysian - who has dominated world badminton for nearly a decade - was forced off court by an eight-month doping ban, which saw him drop out of the world rankings.

He returned to court in May, but made early exits from South Korea and Denmark in September and October respectively, prompting some to question whether the 33-year-old was past his prime.

Lee has since won three consecutive titles in France, China and Hong Kong, and clawed his way back to sixth position in the world rankings.

He beat Chinese world No. 10 Tian Houwei in straight sets 21-16, 21-15 on Sunday to take the crown after a marathon final rally.

But despite his recent performances, the veteran does not think he is at the top of his game, and says he needs to regain some focus - and avoid injury - if he is to make a strong showing at next year's Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

"I know I'm not 100 per cent, maybe 85 per cent," Lee said. "I think I lost some concentration and focus," he added.

Next year's Olympics could be the veteran player's last chance to win a so-far elusive gold. He has two silver medals - from London and Beijing - where on both occasions he was beaten to the top podium position by arch-rival Lin Dan of China.

And for the second straight year, he will not play at the Superseries Finals, in Dubai next month. He does not have chalked up enough points this year, while he qualified last year but did not play owing to his positive dope test.