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Badminton: Malaysia’s Lee wins third All England title; Wang upsets Li

World No. 1 Lee Chong Wei beat No. 2 Chen Long to win his third Yonex All England title in his sixth straight final appearance. Photos: AFP.

World No. 1 Lee Chong Wei beat No. 2 Chen Long 21-13, 21-18 to win his third Yonex All England title. Photos: AFP.

March 10, 2014: On a day of high emotions in Birmingham, World No. 1 Lee Chong Wei was arguably the most emotional of all after the Malaysian won his third Yonex All England title by beating China’s Chen Long 21-13, 21-18 in a highly charged final.

 

After securing the win, the 31-year-old screamed before sinking to his knees, pumping his fists and gesturing passionately to the crowd after ending a run of four losses to the World No. 2 and adding to his back-to-back wins in 2010 and 2011 in his sixth straight All England final.

 

Most recently, Chen beat Li in the final of the season-opening Korea Open, but missed the following week’s Malaysian Open in Kuala Lumpur, where Lee won.

 

However, Lee was most motivated by his loss to Chen in last year’s All England final and his determination to end the losing run against his rival was apparent from the start, as the top seed took control of the match, backed by vocal support from a large Malaysian contingent.

 

“I really wanted to win this title. I tried my best today as this may be my last All England so I’m very happy, especially because of all the Malaysian fans who came to the stadium to support me,” said Lee, who paid tribute to his opponent. “Chen Long is a good player and I needed to play my best to beat him. I think he also played very well today. I think I would have been very tired if we went to a third game.”

 

Despite making his sixth straight appearance in the final, Lee was overcome with emotion following his win.

Despite making his sixth straight appearance in the final, Lee was overcome with emotion following his win.

China’s Wang Shixian was similarly ecstatic in the previous final, letting out a blood-curdling scream befitting of a horror movie after beating World No. 1 Li Xuerui 21-19, 21-18 in an all-Chinese women’s showdown.

 

Wang, who turned 24 last month, deservedly edged a hard-fought contest against the top seed and 2012 Olympic champion for her second All England title in four years.

 

Although the underdog, Wang came up with key winners in the first game and led for most of the second to eventually set up four match points at 20-16. The former World No. 1 eventually won on her third match point, screaming and punching the air after beating her top-ranked compatriot, who won the title two years ago.

 

Wang last won a title at the French Open last October, but has risen to World No. 3 following steadily improving results, including a rare win against compatriot Wang Yihan – currently No. 4 and also a former No. 1 – in the semi-finals.

 

Wang Shixian (left) upset World No. 1 Li Xuerui to win her second Yonex All England title.

Wang Shixian (left) upset World No. 1 Li Xuerui to win her second Yonex All England title.

“I haven’t won a major title for some time, so it’s great to win here today. This is a great tournament and I love the arena here,” Wang said. “It’s my second title here at the All England and I really want to thank all the Chinese fans for supporting me. I’m really happy from the bottom of my heart though there are still lots of big tournaments to win.”

 

Indonesian duo Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan successfully defended their men’s doubles title with a 21-19, 21-19 victory over Japan’s Hiroyuki Endo and Kenichi Hayakawa.

 

Indonesia added a second gold in the day’s last final when Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir won a third successive All England mixed doubles crown by beating Olympic champions Zhang Nan and Zhao Yunlei for the second straight year, 21-13, 21-17.

 

“We are happy with this hat-trick,” said Natsir, listing the World Championships and Asian Games as their other targets for 2014. “Tontowi played well. We want to be more successful and even win again here next year and the year after.”

 

Two-time world champions Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang also defended their title in the women’s doubles, but only after an absorbing three-game thriller against Chinese compatriots Ma Jin and teenager Tang Yuanting in the day’s first final.

 

Wang and Yu, who defended their World Championships title in Guangzhou last August, won the first game 21-17, but the experienced Ma – who used to partner Wang – and her young compatriot fought back to win the second game 21-18.

 

The unseeded underdogs came close to pulling off a remarkable victory when they led 18-16 in the third, but conceded the next three points and eventually lost 23-21 as the top seeds converted their third match point, before the crowd gave all four players a standing ovation.

 

Wang said: “We felt relaxed today because we were playing our friends in an all-Chinese final. We played well today and we wanted to put on a good show. They played well, especially Tang Yuanting as she did so well in her first final.”

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