KUALA LUMPUR: After enjoying a winning streak for more than two years, Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei finally lost his touch against Peter Gade-Christensen of Denmark with a rare defeat in the Korean Open men’s singles final in Seoul yesterday.
The world number one went down 18-21, 21-10, 17-21 in a 53-minute battle that saw the Dane’s superiority at the net and a solid defence.
With the defeat, Chong Wei failed to win his third consecutive titles. He had won the Super Series Masters Finals last month and his fifth Malaysian Open title on Jan 11. The defeat also meant that Chong Wei failed to win his first title as a world number one player outside Malaysia.
Chong Wei was not too disappointed over his failure to beat the Danish veteran yesterday.
“This is my first final appearance in the Korean Open. I think this is my best result in a tournament during winter. Personally, this is an improvement for me,” said Chong Wei in a telephone interview.
But he admitted that he could have played better.
“There were just too many mistakes. He read my game well. His net play was better than mine and he kept on pushing the shuttle to the back. I was also slower than usual,” said Chong Wei. “He was bent on beating me this year and he has pulled it off. I will be better prepared next time.”
It was important to win the first game but Chong Wei blew it when he ran out of steam after breathing hot on the heels of the Dane up to 16-all.
Chong Wei kept alive his hope when he took a superb 12-4 lead in the second game. The Dane threw away the game after that.
Gade-Christensen’s plan to conserve his energy worked and he took a healthy 13-6 lead in the decider. Chong Wei’s effort to get back ended in vain despite a brief fightback.
Chong Wei is now looking forward to a good break before he resumes his challenge in the All-England in Birmingham from March 3-9.
“I called coach (Misbun Sidek) and he has asked me to resume training after the Chinese New Year celebrations.
“Winning the All-England title is my next goal,” he said.
Misbun, who did not join Chong Wei in South Korea, said: “Tiredness took its toll on Chong Wei. It has been really hectic for him. I will be able to give my full concentration on him after the break.”
It was a grand day for Denmark in Seoul yesterday with Tine Rasmussen taking the women’s singles title and Mathias Boe-Carsten Morgensen emerging as the men’s doubles champions.