Malaysia's star Lee gets back to winning ways  
 
Published on 21/05/2012     Source : AFP

World number one Lee Chong Wei steered Malaysia to a first group tie win at the Thomas and Uber Cups in Wuhan Monday, where the injury-hit shuttler hopes to regain his form before the Olympics.

Lee made quick work of South Africa's Jacob Malieka, effortlessly switching play from smash drives to delicate drop shots and showing no sign of the flu that had hindered his preparations.

"Today was very important even if the opposition was not strong," Lee said afterwards, between shouts from adoring fans in the crowd.

"I wanted to get the tournament feeling. In training there was no air-conditioning so I was able to adjust to it today," he added, referring to the windy conditions in the stadium that have preoccupied a number of players. Malaysia beat South Africa 5-0.

Lee arrived in Wuhan with a point to prove. After an injury-plagued season and run of poor results, his closest rivals on the circuit, particularly long-time foe Lin Dan of China, are eyeing Olympic success ahead of the Malaysian.

In the evening session, all eyes were on Indonesia's men as they played their first tie against England.

England's Rajiv Ouseph had pushed Lin surprisingly hard Sunday and again the Briton, ranked 19 in the world, looked confident and showed some nifty footwork to return everything Indonesia's Simon Santoso could fire at him.

But the world number nine proved his class, winning all the key points to close the match after two games in just over half an hour.

"This is the third time I've played Rajiv. He is not easy to play against because he has a habit of taking control of the match," said Santoso. "He did it in the first game and I knew from experience that I had to take back control."

Santoso was picked for the first men's singles ahead of his teammate and world number 12 Taufik Hidayat, who came on for his match to the loudest roar of the night from an animated crowd.

The popular former world number two Hidayat further delighted his fans as he beat England's Carl Baxter, 21-12, 21-16. The same line-up is likely for tomorrow's clash against China, meaning Santoso would face Lin Dan, while Hidayat would take on 23-year-old Chen Long.

In the doubles, England's Andrew Ellis threw his T-shirt into the screaming crowd as he and Chris Adock won against Indonesia's Markis Kido and Hendra Setiawan.

But team-mates Chris Langridge and Nathan Robertson could not beat Mohammad Ahsan and Alvent Yulianto Chandra, losing 19-21, 21-12, 21-19. Indonesia won the tie 4-1.

In the women's Uber Cup, traditional European powerhouse Denmark started well against the United States when Danish veteran and world number seven Tine Baun took just 24 minutes to see off Rena Wang in two games.

One of the best women players outside the Chinese orbit and with a fighting chance of a medal at the London Games, Baun's win marked a good day for Denmark as they won 4-1 in their first match in Wuhan.

"It's a young and talented team. The players will enjoy the atmosphere," the 32-year-old former number one said. "We have a small chance against Japan," she added about their next Group D opponents.

Baun, however, was tight-lipped about competing in her last Olympics, saying only: "Let's see about that."

In the day's other Thomas Cup ties, Germany looked good against the USA, securing a swift 5-0 victory, who like South Africa now go home after two straight losses.

New Zealand are also headed home after defeat by the Russians, whose 5-0 victory showed the progress they have made in the sport.

In the other Uber Cup ties, Germany's women won a tight tie against the Australians 3-2, despite a weakened side after star player and world number eight Juliane Schenk opted to stay home to prepare for London.

Indonesia demolished South Africa 5-0 while Thailand overcame the Netherlands by the same score.

 

 
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