Chen recaptures All-England crown, eyes Lin's record
WORLD No. 1 Chen Long hopes to emulate his legendary compatriot Lin Dan, after regaining an All-England Open men's singles title which some doubted he could capture a second time.
The 26-year-old from Hubei repelled a brave challenge from Jan Jorgensen, the world No. 2 from Denmark, 15-21, 21-17, 21-15, and spoke after Sunday's win of trying to reach the five titles which Lin, the Olympic champion, has won in Birmingham.
"Jorgensen is tough, but Lin Dan is right up there," said Chen, indicating the ceiling.
"Lin Dan is on the highest level," he added, despite having beaten the 31-year-old in two comfortable games in Saturday's semi-finals.
"I want to catch Lin Dan's record, but for the moment, physical condition is the most important thing. I need to keep healthy and not get injured."
These words suggest that it may be Chen rather than Lin - trying to return to more regular competition to bid for a third gold medal - who is at the moment regarded by the Chinese camp as a better bet for success in Rio next year.
He certainly showed patience, good temperament, and excellent defence and counter-attack, despite phases late in the second game when it seemed Jorgensen might be capable of springing a surprise.
The 27-year-old from Aalborg fought tenaciously and produced some sublime moments - with disguised net shots and brilliant ambushing attacks - when an upset seemed not impossible.
But Chen gradually imposed his familiar mid-court containing game, mixed in with darting counter-attacks. He did that by getting forward a little more and moving to the net earlier, often smothering Jorgensen's intentions.
Throughout it all, he exuded calmness - even during a vital moment when Jorgensen appeared to have reduced a three-point deficit to one late in the second game, after a line judge had called Chen's shot out. A video review showed the shuttle just touching the line, an outcome Jorgensen called "crucial".
An even more dramatic point occurred four rallies later.
Jorgensen struck a sliced overhead, which looked certain to go for a winner, until Chen dived and slid along the floor, somehow flicking the shuttle back. Even more remarkably, he regained his feet in time to retrieve the resulting attempted kill and went on to win the point.
That put Chen 18-15 up and after levelling at one game all, he soon took the lead in the decider, advancing to 10-5, 16-10 and eventually 20-11. Jorgensen bravely saved four match points, but was left with painfully mixed feelings.
"I did well - but I would do anything to win this title," he said.