Saturday, May 15, 2010
Malaysia's world no.1 Lee Chong Wei could not believe he lost easily 17-21, 8-21 to world no.2 and 2008 Olympic Champion and 3 time World Champion - Lin Dan or Super Dan of China.
World no. 2, 2008 Olympic Champion and 3 time world champion, Lin Dan performing the break dance or Robot dance after his easy 21-17, 21-8 win over world no.1 and Malaysia's strongest hope for the 2010 Thomas Cup, Lee Chong Wei. The win paved the way for mighty China to win 3-0, and qualify for the final, meeting Indonesia on Sunday 16 May 2010.
This was how Lin Dan dismantled Lee Chong Wei during their match in the 2010 Thomas Cup semifinal in Kuala Lumpur.
16,000 Malaysians and millions more watching on TV were flabbergasted and shocked when Lin Dan made Chong Wei looked like a novice in his own backyard.
THREE-time world champion Lin Dan did what he does best - make world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei look like a novice in front of thousands of delirious home fans - at the Putra Stadium yesterday, during the crucial 1st match of the 2010 Thomas Cup semifinal.
Had Chong Wei, the 2010 All England champion won, Malaysia stand a good chance of upsetting mighty China and breaking the great wall of China to reach the Thomas Cup final, 2010 edition, after an 18 year hiatus.
But it did not turn the way, millions of Malaysian had been hoping for.
To the surprise of Malaysians locally and abroad, Chong Wei lost easily, he managed to get only 8 points in the 2nd set. Chong Wei was not his usual self, there was no fighting spirit, no battle cry and no barrage of attacks/smashes/deceptive shots and strokes. If only Chong Wei can emulate Japan's world no. 40 - Sho Sasaki gallant fighting spirit - then the match result would have been in favour of Malaysia.
Sho Sasaki - a less known Japanese player, proved his mettle when he defeated Wong Choon Hann of Malaysia in the group stage and later Simon Santoso of Indonesia in the semifinal, despite being only world no. 40 and having no super series titles in his badminton career.
Infact, Chong Wei loss in the semifinal to Lin Dan was almost identical to his easy loss of 21-12, 21-8 at the hand of the same opponent, in the 2008 Olympics Games final in Beijing.
It was Chong Wei first defeat this year, having won all 3 super series tournaments he took part this year - the 2010 Korean Open, the 2010 Malaysian Open and the 2010 All England.
Infact, Malaysians were not happy by the way the Malaysian team was easily defeated by China - there was no fighting spirit, infact Chong Wei, the men doubles world no.1 Koo Kien Kiat and Tan Boon Heong and 2nd singles - Wong Choon Hann - only collected 11 points or less in the 2nd sets of their respective matches.
In yesterday match, Lin Dan's tactic - to win a psychological war against the Malaysian - succeeded.
The supremely confident Lin Dan pulled off a stunning 21-17, 21-8 lop-sided win over Chong Wei in 47 minutes to get the crucial first point for China.
Much was made out of this clash between the world's two best players but, in the end, only Lin Dan enjoyed himself to the fullest - toying with Chong Wei with such ease and control.
And to cap off a magnificent display, he took off his shirt and performed a break dance.
His on-court arrogance, however, vanished when he spoke of his sensational victory at the press conference.
The spiky-haird Lin Dan even sounded sympathetic with Chong Wei's defeat.
“Malaysia have not won the Cup for 18 years and there were great expectations on him (Chong Wei).
“There was too much pressure on him,” said Lin Dan. “It is not that Chong Wei's game was predictable but, I think, he was under pressure and could not play his game.
“I knew that I could not let Chong Wei win the first point and I played well from the start. It was an important match for China too.”
Lin Dan, himself a former world No. 1, said he still looked up to two players - Chong Wei and Taufik Hidayat of Indonesia.
“I have achieved my biggest dream by winning the Olympic and world titles. Now, it is all about enjoying the game.
“I may be out to beat Chong Wei and Taufik but, off the court, I would like to be their friends,” he said. “Hopefully, the three of us will continue to give badminton fans around the world happiness through our game.”
Asked whether taking off his shirt was a celebration ritual for him, Lin Dan said in jest: “The first time I took off my shirt was at the 2004 Thomas Cup Finals. I was so happy when I defeated Peter (Gade-Christensen of Denmark). I was young then.
“This time, I took off to see whether I am as muscular as before!”
His fans can look forward to a similar celebration if he takes down Taufik when China meet Indonesia in the final tomorrow.
In the end, China ended Malaysia's hope for Thomas Cup title in 18 years with a 3-0 scoreline (Lin Dan beat Lee Chong Wei 21-17, 21-8; World champion Cai Yun-Fu Haifeng beat world no. 1, Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong 21-15, 21-10; World no. 3 Chen Jin beat world no. 16 and 1997 world championship runner-up, Wong Choong Hann 21-16, 21-7).
Malaysia last won the Thomas Cup in 1992 in Kuala Lumpur after beating Indonesia 3-2 in the final. The hero in 1992 included 1st single - Rashid Sidek, now head coach of Malaysia badminton team, 2nd singles - Foo Kok Keong and 2nd doubles - Cheah Soon Kit and Soo Beng Kiang who clinched the 3 winning points for Malaysia on that glorious and historic night. In that memorable 1992 match - Malaysia's top doubles - Razif and his brother Jalani Sidek lost, but they helped Malaysia qualified to the final with a win over the top Chinese pair of Tiang Bingyi/Li Yongbo in the semifinal.