World number one Lee Chong Wei admitted Wednesday he had been within a hair’s breadth of quitting the last All-England Open of his career before surviving a first-round test into the unknown. The three-time former champion, Malaysia’s most successful Olympian, won 21-15, 21-12 against Brice Leverdez of France, but knows he may have to finish the tournament without ever being at his best.
Lee played with heavy strapping over the knee he injured training a month ago and had little idea how or even whether he would be able to perform in Birmingham.
“I just know it is not one hundred percent,” the 34-year-old said. “I was so very close to pulling out. But this is the All-England and I said I will play. “I’m just going on court and trying to forget my injury and do my best. I didn’t play well, but at least I think I tried to play every shot.”
Lee was a little fortunate that Leverdez, who beat him in the Danish Open in October and led 14-11 this time, relinquished his lead with mistakes. Lee next plays Wang Tzu Wei, the world number 25 from Taiwan, and must hope the ligament damage continues to recede before a possible quarter-final with Tian Houwei, the seventh-seeded Chinese player.—AFP