GLASGOW: France’s Brice Leverdez pulled off a major shock at the World Badminton Championships by defeating men’s second seed Lee Chong Wei in three games here on Tuesday.
The 31-year-old claimed the biggest scalp of his career 21-19, 22-24, 21-17 in 75 minutes, and in the process perhaps ended Lee’s elusive search for the world title which has seen him take three silver medals just as he has done in the Olympics.
“I’m really happy,” he said. “I managed to stay relaxed and played my own game.”
Leverdez, who scored only his second win over Lee in nine matches, had two match points in the second game — 20-21 and 21-22 — and it was only a successful hawk eye challenge on the second match point that saved Lee from a straight games exit.
In the decider, the 34-year-old Malaysian led 15-10 — but the Frenchman wouldn’t give in.
“I knew I was in trouble, but I never gave up,” said Leverdez, who won the 2013 Scottish Open title at the same venue and is ranked 31 in the world.
For Lee it was another chance gone.
“I tried my best and he got lucky on a few points,” said Lee, whose fourth win in the All-England Open this year suggested he was still capable of ending his world title drought.
He wiped Leverdez off court in just 35 minutes at the All-England Open, but after this shock he admits his future is uncertain.
“I’m very disappointed. I don’t know my plans, maybe I’ll retire tomorrow,” he said with a smile. “I have to find out if I still have the fire to go on.”
China’s Chen Long, the defending champion and Olympic gold medallist, had no such problem. In one of the quickest first-round matches, he swept aside Georges Julien Paul from Mauritius 21-7, 21-9.
Japan’s top seed and world No 2 Akane Yamaguchi also had an easy passage into the last 16 as she ousted Denmark’s Line Hojmark Kjaersfeldt 21-13, 21-11 in just 28 minutes.
The seed to survive a big scare was China’s Tian Houwei. In the deciding game, he trailed 12-16 to Denmark’s Hans-Kristian Solberg Vittinghus.
But the left-handed No 10 seed then reeled off nine points in a row to win 21-14, 17-21, 21-16.
In the women’s draw Japanese top seed Akane Yamaguchi beat Denmark’s Line Hojmark Kjaersfeldt 21-6 21-13 in 30 minutes while fourth-seeded Indian Pusarla Sindhu beat South Korea’s Kim Hyo Min 21-16 21-14.
China’s Sun Yu, seeded fifth, powered past unseeded Indonesian Lyanny Alessandra Mainaky 21-13 21-9 in 47 minutes. She was joined in the second round by compatriot Chen Yufei.
Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon overcame Malaysia’s Rui Chen Yap 21-12 21-7 while China’s Chen Xiaoxin defeated Canada’s Michelle Li 21-13 27-25.