Badminton: Commonwealth games the focus for Lee, says coach

China's Lin Dan in action during his All England quarter-final against Lee Chong Wei. He paid tribute to his longtime rival by saying that the Malaysian is a "great competitor". Lin prevailed 21-16, 21-17 in Birmingham.
China's Lin Dan in action during his All England quarter-final against Lee Chong Wei. He paid tribute to his longtime rival by saying that the Malaysian is a "great competitor". Lin prevailed 21-16, 21-17 in Birmingham.PHOTO: REUTERS

Hendrawan insists shuttler will bounce back by April after All England q-final loss to Lin

LONDON • Malaysia's men's badminton singles coach Hendrawan believes that Lee Chong Wei's defeat by China's Lin Dan in the All England quarter-finals will not affect the player's preparations for the Commonwealth Games next month.

World No. 5 Lee could not retain his title after losing to former two-time Olympic champion and career-long rival Lin 21-16, 21-17 in Birmingham on Friday.

"I believe Chong Wei will bounce back as usual, as now the focus is on facing the Commonwealth Games," Hendrawan told the New Straits Times.

"Chong Wei still has two weeks to finalise preparations for the Games and we will analyse his performance and work towards addressing any weaknesses.

"There is nothing to worry about because of this loss to Lin Dan. Chong Wei seemed to be off the pace compared to his opponent who was more aggressive. Whatever it is, Chong Wei tried his best."

The 34-year-old Lin beat Lee, 35, though their light-footed movements and brilliantly varied stroke-play would have made it impossible for outsiders to guess their ages.

Lee managed to squeeze in front at 16-15 in the first game and 13-10 in the second.

But Lin proved to be superior after making brilliant surges during the most crucial phases of both games and finishing them off quickly.

"I played quite well," he said. "It's a great tournament, and he is one of the great competitors, so this is superb."

Lee did not appear too downcast.

"I will move forward now," he said. "There are a lot of competitions to come this year."

Earlier on Friday, there was an upset when Olympic champion Chen Long lost for the first time to his fellow Chinese player Shi Yuqi.

But he also did not seem too upset after his 21-10, 21-17 defeat.

"I am happy that whoever wins this match will go to the semi-finals for Team China," he said.

The reigning Olympic women's singles champion also lost.

But Carolina Marin's 21-15, 21-18 defeat by Akane Yamaguchi, the World Super Series title-winner from Japan, was much more in line with current form.

Yamaguchi was fast, tenacious, and clever at getting the match played where it suited her - in the midcourt and forecourt.

"I feel very disappointed about how I played today, because I expected that I could win the tournament," Spain's Marin said.

"I also did not feel good on court. I have to keep improving my game."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 18, 2018, with the headline 'C'wealth games the focus for Lee: Coach'. Print Edition | Subscribe