JAKARTA • Malaysia's nearly-man Lee Chong Wei vowed to continue his quest for the elusive world and Olympic badminton titles following his latest major heartbreak.
The 32-year-old suffered his fourth consecutive world championship final defeat - and second straight by Chen Long - yesterday.
Yet, he could have no complaints after failing to unsettle the Chinese world No. 1, who stormed to a 21-14, 21-17 victory at the Istora Senayan in just over an hour.
"I lost to an extraordinary player today. Chen Long was faster... I could see the shuttles flying past me. He was in top form," said Lee.
"I tried to increase my pace. I tried to attack but all was not working. Once again, I have failed to fulfil my dream to become a world champion. It is disappointing.
"Those who watched the match today must have been disappointed as well. They ought to. It was not my best performance."
The two-time Olympic silver medallist had topped the world rankings for a record 298 weeks in a long and illustrious career but once again came up short against a Chinese player at the top of his game.
Chen has replaced Lin Dan as the top male player following his breakthrough world-title triumph a year ago. The rangy 26-year-old has also replaced his compatriot as Lee's arch nemesis after repeating last year's win over the Malaysian.
Lin has beaten Lee in four major finals, including the last two Olympics. However, Chen has emerged from the shadow of a player whom many believe to be the greatest ever with a complete game built on his supreme agility, speed, power and fitness.
At 1.87 metres, Chen also boasts a court-covering reach and used all of his attributes to rein in the fast-starting Lee, realising he was dominating when he attacked and coming off second-best in the tactical rallies.
Once he took the lead at 11-10, Chen looked unstoppable and reeled off 16-of-20 points to claim the opening game.
He stormed out of the blocks in the second to forge a six-point lead by the interval. Lee battled but was unable to get any closer than within two points of his opponent.
"Lee is a good player but I was better today," Chen said in a courtside interview. "This is a very special arena so it feels great to win the world title here."
Lee had planned to retire after the 2012 London Olympics. He is widely expected to call it quits after the Rio de Janeiro Games next year.
But, yesterday, he refused to rule out competing at the next World Championships in 2017, suggesting that he could continue if he remains injury-free.
"No matter what, I will not give up. I will come back stronger for the Olympics. I am not stopping. I am going to try again," said the world No. 44. He returned to action only in May after an eight-month ban for a positive dope test.
"I have changed my game to counter Chen Long but it did not work today. I will change again and again until I get him."
Earlier, top seeds Zhang Nan and Zhao Yunlei stormed to a third mixed doubles world title with a 21-17, 21-11 victory over compatriots Liu Cheng and Bao Yixin.
Zhao returned to the court to retain her women's doubles title when she partnered Tian Qing to a 23-25, 21-8, 21-15 win over Denmark's Christinna Pedersen and Kamilla Rytter Juhl.
The home fans were then rewarded for their patience as Indonesia's Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan defeated China's Liu Xiaolong and Qiu Zihan 21-17, 21-14 in the men's doubles final.
ASIA NEWS NETWORK/THE STAR, REUTERS