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Big match fizzle: Chong Wei retires hurt

All England 2012 winner Lin Dan (left) with runner-up Lee Chong Wei

It was to be the appetizer before the Olympics, but it ended in premature fashion, with world No.1 Lee Chong Wei forced to retire in the second game of the All England final against Lin Dan, giving the Chinese great his fifth All England title on Sunday. Chong Wei had picked up an injury to his right arm during his quarterfinal against Dionysius Rumbaka, and didn’t want to aggravate it before the Olympics. Lin Dan’s 21-9 6-2 (retd) win makes him third on the all-time men’s singles winners list at the All England, behind Rudy Hartono (eight) and Erland Kops (seven). Lin Dan’s win gave China three of the five titles at stake on Sunday.

(Watch it online: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RkHHP1eKhak&feature=player_embedded)

“I had pain in my shoulder since the beginning of the match even if I managed to play all right in the first game,” said Chong Wei to Badzine.net. “I couldn’t attack anymore so I had to retire, unfortunately. I am disappointed but I tried my best today.”

Lin Dan was gracious in victory and underplayed the nature of the rivalry. “Of course, it would have been better to finish the game today, but I’m still pretty pleased with the first game that we played. It was a good level of badminton. For many years, now, Chong Wei and I have battled and he’s become like a brother to me on court. Each time we face each other is a good match and maybe that’s why we exchanged shirts this time. I wouldn’t have done it four years ago, but now, I’m looking at things a bit differently.”

If the men’s singles turned out to be disappointing for millions of fans across the world, they wouldn’t have complained about the other matches. Perhaps the best of these was the thrilling three-set battle against fierce rivals Lee Yong Dae/ Jung Jae Sung of Korea against five time world champions Cai Yun and Fu Haifeng. Matches between the two pairs have often been thrillers, and so it was yet again as Yong Dae and Jae Sung kept their noses in front for a 21-23 21-9 21-14 result.

“This feels very good to win here,” Yong Dae told Badzine.net. “We were a bit nervous in the first game after our loss at home against them in the final, but in the second and third games, we played with more confidence. We are in good shape but we are still wary of other pairs, from China, Malaysia, Indonesia and Denmark for the competitions coming up. We will not be satisfied until we reach our ultimate goal, which is to win the Olympics.”

The recent combination of Tontowi and wise veteran Lilyana Natsir decimated Denmark’s former world champions Thomas Laybourn and Kamilla Rytter Juhl by their astute gameplan, ending victors 21-17 21-19.

The talk of the day however would have been about the new women’s singles champion, Li Xuerui, who upstaged the favourite, Wang Yihan 21-13 21-19. Xuerui has had a meteoric rise to the top and now looks set to challenge for the No.1 spot. With her lanky frame, good reach and sharp attacking shots, she will be a formidable force to contend with.

Finals:

MS: 2-Lin Dan (Chn) bt 1-Lee Chong Wei (Mas) 21-9 6-2 retd

WS: 7-Li Xuerui bt 1-Wang Yihan 21-13 21-19

MD: 2-Lee Yong Dae/ Jung Jae Sung (Kor) bt 1-Cai Yun/ Fu Haifeng (Chn) 21-23 21-14

WD: 2-Qing Tian/ Zhao Yunlei (Chn) bt Wang Xiaoli/ Yu Yang (Chn) 21-17 21-12

XD: 4-Tontowi Ahmad/ Lilyana Natsir (Ina) bt 8-Thomas Laybourn/ Kamilla Rytter-Juhl (Den) 21-17 21-19

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