LONDON • World No. 1 Lee Chong Wei clinched his fourth All England badminton title yesterday, after he defeated China's Shi Yuqi in the men's singles final at the Barclaycard Arena in Birmingham.
The 34-year-old Malaysian, playing in his seventh All England final, was too strong for the young, unseeded Chinese player, winning 21-12, 21-10.
Lee, who is recovering from a knee injury, was at ease throughout the 45-minute match as he demonstrated his vast experience and superior skills to claim yet another major title.
Shi, who was trailing 10-18 in the second game, twisted his ankle while trying to retrieve a delicate shot from Lee and took a short medical time-out but decided to continue although he could not do much in the remaining three points.
"I'm still not a hundred per cent recovered," said Lee on Friday after beating Chiu Tien-chen of Chinese Taipei 10-21, 21-14, 21-9 in the semi-finals - referring to the left knee injury sustained after a fall on a badminton mat back home in Kuala Lumpur last month. "I just focus and do what I can. I just came here to enjoy it."
Number of All England titles Lee Chong Wei has captured.
But he showed that the injury did not hamper him in the final, as he claimed it was like playing at home.
"The All England is my favourite tournament because I feel like playing at home every time I see action here. The fans have been great and I will be back next year," a jubilant Lee said after his victory.
"Thanks to all my fans, first time I am seeing so many (supporters) in the final. All England is my favourite tournament. Yes (I want to play next year in the All England)."
Prior to the prestigious event, he had said that "this edition of the All England Championships will probably be my last before retirement".
Lee, who also won this title in 2010, 2011 and 2014, was expected to face his arch-rival and defending champion Lin Dan from China in the final, but all expectations fell flat when the former world No. 1 unexpectedly lost to Shi, 21, in their semi-final on Saturday.
The man regarded as the greatest player of all time briefly held two game points at 20-18 against his compatriot, before slipping quietly away to a 24-22, 21-10 defeat. Lin's deflating loss ended hopes of another final showdown between the veteran greats.
"My condition is not very good," said Lin, 33, though he had looked in good shape while coming from a game down to beat Viktor Axelsen, the World Superseries champion from Denmark, the night before.
"I am proud of the way I am still able to play at this level at my age."
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, BERNAMA