Lee shocked in opening round

World No. 31 Brice Leverdez took 75 minutes to stun Malaysia's world No. 2 Lee Chong Wei.
World No. 31 Brice Leverdez took 75 minutes to stun Malaysia's world No. 2 Lee Chong Wei.

Little-known Leverdez claims major scalp by beating world No. 2 in World Championships

GLASGOW • Malaysia's Lee Chong Wei suffered a shock opening-round defeat at the BWF World Championships in Glasgow yesterday when he failed to overcome world No. 31 Brice Leverdez.

Three-time world silver medallist and second-ranked Lee - who might have played his last World Championships amid talk of retirement - was neck-and-neck with the Frenchman in the 75-minute clash before ultimately going down 19-21, 24-22, 17-21 at the Emirates Arena.

Lee was gunning for an elusive maiden World Championships title after emerging second-best in three consecutive editions - in 2011 (England), 2013 (China) and 2015 (Indonesia).

The upset will be remembered for its second game in which Leverdez twice held match point - 21-20 and 22-21 - and it was only a successful Hawk-eye challenge on the second that saved Lee from a straight-games loss.

The Malaysian then fought back from the brink of elimination to draw 1-1, forcing a third game but to no avail.

Despite his disappointment, Lee praised his opponent and felt that mistakes led to his defeat.

"It's okay, I tried my best but I don't think I played so well," the 34-year-old said.

"Brice played so well today, he had the lead for a lot of the second game and today, he was very lucky.

"Today, I put a lot of pressure on myself and made a lot of mistakes.

"I need to relax to get my focus back."

He also tweeted after the match: "Today I didn't manage to play my best.

"Sorry for letting you down. Sorry (Malaysia flag emoji)."

In another first-round match yesterday, defending champion Chen Long of China beat Mauritius' Georges Julien Paul 21-7, 21-9 in a little over half an hour.

Chen's compatriot, Lin Dan, also opened his bid for a sixth world title with a comfortable victory over Kieran Merrilees on Monday.

Lin took 39 minutes to beat the Scot 21-15, 21-10.

"I had never met him so I watched videos of his two matches and found that he is a tough opponent," said Lin, who won the world title in 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2013.

"The match is not as easy as the score has suggested. Everyone is trying to play his best game. My opponent was so strong and fast today."

World No. 1 Son Wan Ho of South Korea defeated Kalle Koljonen of Finland 21-14, 21-16.



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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 23, 2017, with the headline 'Lee shocked in opening round'. Print Edition | Subscribe