Badminton Life

Lee Wants to Justify Top Ranking

Finding an incentive for a tournament so soon after the euphoria of the Olympics can be quite a challenge.

However, for Malaysia's Lee Chong Wei, there is a good reason to aim for glory at the Japan Open next week.

Last week, Lee regained the world number one ranking from China's Lin Dan, who vanquished Lee in the Beijing Games men's singles final last month.

In two previous stints as world number one, Lee had failed to win a title. He hopes to change that in Japan.

In 2006, he took part in the Macau Open as world number one but fell to Lin in the final. He also wants to be the first Malaysian to hang on to his top ranking for a good amount of time.

His predecessors, Rashid Sidek and Mohd Roslin Hashim, only held the top spot for short periods. His coach Misbun Sidek believes he has the talent to stay number one as long as he is willing to work at it.

"Not only must Chong Wei be able to handle the pressure that I will put on him in training but he must also improve his physical condition," Misbun was quoted as saying in the local media.

"It is good that Chong Wei has held on to the number one spot for a second consecutive week. But it is important that he maintains it for a longer period. It will be difficult to climb up the ladder again if he drops down the rankings."

Misbun was full of praise for the way Lee handled the post-mortem of his silver medal in Beijing, which included attending functions and meeting dignitaries. Despite his obligations, Lee has maintained his training regime.

Said Misbun: "He is not at his best physical condition. He is still tired. But I admire his spirit. He has been demanding for more in training. It is a delight to see Chong Wei handling all this very well. He is humble."

Lee is the defending champion in Japan, where he is expected to come across players such as Simon Santoso and Taufik Hidayat, both of Indonesia, on his side of the draw.

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