KUALA LUMPUR: Cutting a small cake with his wife Wong Mew Choo in Paris – the city of love – must have been a perfect birthday setting and timely break for World No. 1 singles shuttler Lee Chong Wei.
Chong Wei, who turned 31 on Monday, is now all pumped up and ready to show that age is not a barrier as he seeks to make a quick rebound at the French Open this week.
On Sunday, Chong Wei went down fighting to second seed Chen Long of China in the men’s singles final of the Denmark Open in Odense.
But there won’t be a rematch in the French Open as Chen Long, whose record against Chong Wei now stands at 7-7, has withdrawn from the tournament.
It’s uncertain why the 24-year-old Chen Long has pulled out.
But his absence has now opened up a clearer path for Chong Wei and two other Malaysians – defending champion Liew Daren and Chong Wei Feng – to enjoy a good outing.
Chong Wei, who is expected to face younger players in French Open, said that “age is just a number” and that he was determined to grow older gracefully.
“I had a simple 31st birthday celebration with my wife Mew Choo and a few close friends in Paris. We cut a small cake over dinner. Mew Choo did not bring our son (Kingston) along,” said Chong Wei.
“It was good to be able to relax after that tough match against Chen Long. It was my eighth final in international tournaments so far this year … and I have won five Super Series titles. That’s not bad for a 31-year-old man.”
Chong Wei said that he did not feel his age and still enjoyed playing at the highest level.
Chong Wei starts his first round against India’s P. Kashyap, 27.
Also in his half are Kenichi Tago of Japan, Wong Wing Ki of Hong Kong, Daren, Wei Feng, India’s R.M.V Gurusaidutt and Indonesia’s Tommy Sugiarto.
Daren faces Boonsak Ponsana of Thailand in the opening round while Wei Feng plays Sho Sasaki of Japan.
In the lower half of the draw are South Korean Lee Dong-keun, who replaced Chen Long, China’s Wang Zhengming, Denmark’s Jan O Jorgensen and Sony Dwi Kuncoro of Indonesia.