FUZHOU (China) • With nine months to go till the Rio Olympics, former world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei offered renewed hope that he can end years of major heartbreak.
The Malaysian shuttler stunned top-ranked Chen Long 21-15, 21-11 in 50 minutes to capture his first China Open title at the Haixia Olympic Sports Centre yesterday.
The victory was his most one-sided win over the Chinese since 2011, when he won their Malaysian Open encounter 21-9, 21-9, and it closed their head-to-head record to 10-12.
Lee has now won 41 career Superseries titles, but it is Olympic gold that he dreams about. And Malaysian coach Tey Seu Bock believes the world No. 9 is peaking at the right time after an eight-month doping ban earlier this year.
"His attacking and defensive game was solid. Everything worked so well for him. I am so happy for him," he told the Star.
"Chong Wei is certainly back at his best after going through uncertain times over the last few months. This will put him in the right frame of mind ahead of the Olympic Games in Rio next year."
Lee has lost in two consecutive Olympic finals and four straight world championship title deciders. But the 33-year-old has laid down a marker with his performances at this US$700,000 (S$995,500) Superseries Premier event.
En route to the final, Lee defeated world No. 2 Jan Jorgensen and No. 3 Lin Dan. He, however, refused to get carried away.
"My confidence has definitely increased but it's best not to be too happy about defeating Chen Long and Lin Dan here because this is just a Superseries event," he told a press conference.
South Koreans Kim Gi Jung and Kim Sa Rang also enjoyed an upset in the men's doubles yesterday, beating Chinese sixth seeds Chai Biao and Hong Wei 21-13, 21-19.
But there was better news for the hosts in the other events. Li Xuerui beat top seed Saina Nehwal of India 21-12, 21-15 in the women's singles.
In the women's doubles, Tang Yuanting and Yu Yang overcame Japanese top seeds Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi 18-21, 21-13, 21-12. Zhang Nan and Zhao Yunlei won the mixed doubles title with a 21-19, 17-21, 21-19 win over Danes Joachim Fischer Nielsen and Christinna Pedersen.