Lin Dan ends two-year drought, says 'bad times are over'

China's Lin Dan hitting a shot against compatriot Chen Long in the men's singles final of the Malaysia Open yesterday. His last victory came at the same tournament in 2017.
China's Lin Dan hitting a shot against compatriot Chen Long in the men's singles final of the Malaysia Open yesterday. His last victory came at the same tournament in 2017.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

KUALA LUMPUR • It had been a drought spanning two years, bringing about plenty of self-doubt along the way and claims that Lin Dan was finished at the top level.

But, after ending his lean spell with an electric display against countryman Chen Long to clinch the Malaysia Open yesterday, the Chinese badminton ace declared "the bad times are over".

The world No. 16 smashed his way to a 9-21, 21-7, 21-11 victory and, afterwards, he admitted he was "determined to play well", with his last victory coming at the same tournament in 2017.

He said: "My performance last year was not ideal, and I was under a lot of pressure and even doubted myself.

"But, here in Malaysia, I was hungry for victory.

"It demonstrated that my previous training was effective - more importantly, it gave me confidence."

Lin did not enter the tournament in form, suffering several early-round exits since January, including at the Indonesia Masters, German Open and the All England Open.

However, the 35-year-old dictated the pace in yesterday's final by working his opponent with deft net play and his trademark front-court smashes.

The two-time Olympic gold medallist received a US$49,000 (S$66,150) cash prize presented by his long-time rival Lee Chong Wei, who pulled out of the tournament to avoid putting his "body under undue stress".

The Malaysian star, who has not played since July when a check-up revealed that he had early-stage nose cancer, later tweeted that while he would not be participating at this week's Singapore Open, Lee said he "will continue to train hard for our next match".

In response, Lin, who will be part of the star-studded field at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, said he hoped to face the 36-year-old Lee in competition again, with both veterans having an eye on the 2020 Tokyo Games.

The 35-year-old added: "He congratulated me on my performance. He looks pretty well, I am sure we will meet again on the court."

In the women's draw, top seed Tai Tzu-ying of Chinese Taipei won her third straight Malaysia Open title after a 21-16, 21-19 triumph over Japan's world No. 4 Akane Yamaguchi.

China dominated all the other events, winning the mixed doubles, women's doubles and the men's doubles events.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, XINHUA

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 08, 2019, with the headline 'Lin Dan ends two-year drought, says 'bad times are over''. Print Edition | Subscribe