LONDON • Lin Dan's sixth All England men's singles title was the only good news for China on Sunday in a tournament they have dominated since 1999.
The 32-year-old produced an emphatic 21-9, 21-10 victory in the final over his compatriot Tian Houwei. But none of his compatriots could measure up to his standard as China's players recorded their worst performance in 17 years competing at the world's oldest badminton tournament.
They had previously won at least two titles each time.
Wang Shixian made it to the women's singles final, but she was denied the chance to emulate Lin in a dramatic climax that was filled by a cacophony of booing and a controversial penalty point against her.
Wang was leading 17-14 in the final game against Nozomi Okuhara of Japan when she was shown a red card for delaying at 17-all, thus slipping to 17-18 without playing a rally and eventually losing by a whisker, 11-21, 21-16, 19-21.
It had been a 1hr 39min thriller, the second-longest match of the tournament, and the best final, but it was the decision of Mike Wright, the English umpire, which inevitably attracted more immediate attention and the most differing views.
"I think the Chinese players were all badly treated by the match officials this year," Wang, 26, said after the match.
"She (Okuhara) was always wasting time like doing her shoelaces without the umpire's permission.
"The umpire just turned a blind eye to her.
"And for me, he showed me a red card at the crucial moment. I think there should be some rules and a standard.
"I have complicated feelings about it all at the moment, and there are lots of elements (in what happened), but the call from the umpire I wasn't prepared for."
Wang also appeared to be unhappy about the video review decisions in an eventful encounter which also saw the scoreboard break down in the second game and the umpire revert to pen and paper.
Okuhara, whose career-best success occurred on her 21st birthday and followed her triumph in the Super Series finals in Dubai in December, had a rather different view.
"The decisions were only minor issues," she claimed.
Her win was significant. Okuhara may have a physical style and admirable mental strength, but, when the crisis was greatest, she showed the ability to disguise her shots and play with accuracy.
Her triumph also happened on a day when, remarkably, the Japanese were more successful than China, by far the world's strongest badminton nation.
Misaki Matsumoto and Ayaja Takahashi won the women's doubles and later Hiroyuki Endo and Kenichi Hayakawa came close to winning the men's doubles.
However, the unseeded Vladimir Ivanov and Ivan Sozonov's improbable 21-23, 21-18, 21-16 victory made them the first Russians to win an All England title.
Indonesia's Praveen Jordan and Debby Susanto beat Denmark's Joachim Fischer Nielsen and Christina Pedersen 21-12, 21-17 to clinch the mixed doubles title.