WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: A ‘new’ Chong Wei can end Malaysia’s barren run
LEE Chong Wei was under tremendous pressure when he let slip a golden opportunity to win the 2011 World Championships crown but two years on, he is approaching the same event in Guangzhou with a cool head backed by solid preparation.
This relaxed approach, national singles chief coach Rashid Sidek believes, gives Chong Wei his best shot to win this major title despite the challenges of the usual suspects — Lin Dan, his conqueror in London two years ago, and Chen Long.
Chong Wei squandered two match points when leading 20-19 and 21-20 to eventually lose 20-22, 21-17, 23-21 to Lin Dan in what many consider the best men’s singles final in the World Championships.
However, in that episode the pressure was on Chong Wei due to continuous speculation about Lin Dan’s injury and lack of preparation but that only worked in the China shuttler’s favour.
Chong Wei, well aware that Guangzhou presents him with his final opportunity to bag a big one in the twilight of his career, has not been thinking too much about winning the title but is just concentrating on his preparations in the ongoing training stint in Hong Kong.
Rashid believes Chen Long, who is likely to meet Lin Dan in the semi-finals, could face Chong Wei for the title but the coach feels the World No 1, this time around, is ready for anyone.
"So far, our preparation has been going on well and Chong Wei is in good shape. I think this is the best chance for him to win the title," said Rashid in an e-mail from Hong Kong yesterday.
"It was different in 2011 as he was the favourite and Lin Dan’s form coming into the event was unknown.
"I think Chong Wei can control pressure better than before and he is more relaxed. He is a more experienced player and has learnt from past tournaments on how to handle pressure.
"I also believe there is a possibility Lin Dan will probably give way to Chen Long to reach the final as the latter’s current form is much better." Chong Wei revealed his desire to win the title before leaving for Hong Kong last week but also said it will not be the end of the world if he did not succeed. Chong Wei has reduced his involvement in tournaments and his final phase of training over the last weeks has been uninterrupted and this, Rashid feels, will give him a better than even chance of snatching the elusive world title.