Frenchman upsets Malaysian badminton legend Lee

Elspeth BURNSIDE
France's Brice Leverdez celebrates his victory over Malaysia's Lee Chong Wei on August 22, 2017

France's Brice Leverdez pulled off a major shock at the badminton world championships by defeating men's second seed Lee Chong Wei in three games in Glasgow 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 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 seeded 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.

"I am very satisfied with my performance," said the world number two.

"I never think about being the top seed too much. I am still young and just try my best to take care of everything and take it match by match."

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 number 10 seed then reeled off nine points in a row to win 21-14, 17-21, 21-16.