TOKYO — World number one Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia failed to live up to his pre-match promise, losing to Indonesia’s Simon Santoso in the Japan Open badminton tournament on Thursday.
The top seed, who has been struggling with his old left knee injury, worked hard in the final game clawing back from 5-12 to 19-19 before finally surrendering 19-21, 21-15, 21-19 in the second round.
Lee, the champion here in 2007, quickly left the court for treatment to his knee without talking to reporters.
For Santoso, it was his biggest win so far, although he has beaten Lee three times when the Malaysian was ranked lower.
"When I took the lead in the final game, I slowed down a little bit, giving him the chance to fight back. But I was patient in the end and able to beat him," said Santoso, ranked 16.
"He is one of the best players in the world, he’s currently the number one player. Patience was the key to my victory today."
With the win, Santoso set up a clash against defending champion and teammate Soni Dwi Kuncoro, the winner over China’s Chen Long 21-19, 15-21, 21-14.
"I’ve never beaten him (Kuncoro) in an international competition. We practise together and I lost to him so many times. Hopefully, I can beat him this time," said Santoso.
Kuncoro said he lost his concentration in the second game but was concentrating harder in the third, taking a wide lead throughout.
"He (Chen) changed his play in the second game and varied his play widely. I just couldn’t catch up with him," said Kuncoro.
For the match against Santoso, Kuncoro said: "I shall win tomorrow. I’m very confident. It doesn’t matter which country he is from."
Athens Olympic gold medallist Taufik Hidayat of Indonesia coasted to a 21-17, 21-18 win over England’s Andrew Smith, and now takes on 2008 Asian champion Park Sung-Hwan of South Korea on Friday. Park eliminated local hope Kenichi Tago 21-10, 19-21, 21-4.
Two-time Japan champion Peter Gade of Denmark became the only European in the men’s singles field when he sent off India’s Parupalli Kashyap 21-10, 21-10.
In other matches, this year’s Asian champion Bao Chunlai of China defeated South Korea’s Shon Wan-Ho 21-19, 7-21, 21-17, while eighth seed Tien Minh Nguyen of Vietnam outclassed Japan’s Sho Sasaki 21-10, 21-18.
Hosts Japan made a quarter-final berth with Kazuteru Kozai beating his conpatriot Koichi Saeki 21-15, 21-15.