PETALING JAYA: Lee Chong Wei holds an impressive record of reaching the final all but once since his silver-medal winning effort in the Beijing Olympics last August.
But unlike arch-rival Lin Dan of China, Chong Wei has yet to bag a major tournament. And coach Misbun Sidek said that the world No. 1 must now strive to achieve this goal.
In eight final appearances, the 27-year-old has won thrice — in the Super Series Masters Finals last December, the Malaysian Open in January and the just concluded Swiss Open.
The only blot was a semi-final defeat by former Olympic champion Taufik Hidayat of Indonesia in the French Open last November. But Misbun felt that Taufik is now the least of Chong Wei’s concerns. He beat the Indonesian in two consecutive tournaments — the All-England and Swiss Open.
He said that it was no surprise that Chong Wei turned the tables on Lin Dan to regain the Swiss Open title he last won three years ago.
“I am not surprised because he found a way to neutralise Lin Dan during the All-England. But it did not work out then as he followed Lin Dan’s attacking pace and started to get tense when he could not break through,” said Misbun yesterday.
“I kept in touch with him in Basel and told him not to rush into things when playing against Lin Dan, who plays a fast attacking game and has a very high element of surprise.
“But he lost the tactical battle when Chong Wei started to engage him in long rallies. That is when he got frustrated and began making mistakes.”
Misbun was unable to be with Chong Wei in Basel because his wife was ill.
He hoped Chong Wei would apply the experience he gained from his outings in Europe for his next big assignment — the world championships in Hyderabad from Aug 10-16.
“Chong Wei has made the final in all four Super Series events he played in thus far this year and this is no ordinary feat. He would not have been able to achieve this if he was unfit. He has showed that he is ahead of the rest of the top players except for Lin Dan.
“Taufik is not the same player who won the Olympics title in 2004 while Peter (Gade-Christensen) has made Chong Wei the benchmark for him to gauge his performance.
“After this, Chong Wei has to aim to try to beat Lin Dan in a major event. It is going to be hard to beat Lin Dan when he is fully focused on the task in a big tournament. But Chong Wei must not give up.”
Lin Dan boasts of a collection of one Olympic, two world championship and four All-England titles but an Asian Games gold medal is missing from his cabinet.
The Chinese will be gunning for a hat-trick of world championships gold in August and the bet is on whether Chong Wei can stop him.
Yesterday, Chong Wei left for Hungary to play an exhibition match and will return on Thursday.