Despite being the reigning Olympic champion, Chen Long has hardly gone into any of the major tournaments in last couple of years as a favourite. His lack of form was such that he hadn't won a World Tour title in about a year.
On Sunday, by getting the better of Jonatan Christie of Indonesia in the final of BWF World Tour Super 750 tournament, Chen ended his long wait. A comfortable victory by 21-19, 21-12 has marked the return of the former World Champion to his rightful place among the top badminton players in the world.
The match promised to be a good contest as Christie, the current Asian Games champion, was coming into the final after an incredible win in the semi-final against Viktor Axelsen of Denmark. In that match, the Indonesian had lost the first game 7-21 and was trailing 10-19 in the deciding third game. Yet, he managed to fight back and get the victory.
In the big final, both players were going neck and neck for the most part. Since both players like to play long rallies and build up to their winners, patience was going to be a key aspect of the match. The first game was close but Christie committed too many errors and gave that little opening which was enough for his rival to take a 1-0 lead.
The second game was also following a similar pattern. However, the gold medalist from 2018 Asian Games did not seem like getting the upper hand at any stage. Somehow, the lead was with him when the mid-game interval arrived.
But after that, the Chinese player tightened his game and didn't give away any easy points. Soon, the gold medalist from Rio was racing ahead towards the title as Christie lost his wherewithal to score points. Eventually, as the game seemed out of reach for the Indonesian, he attempted some big winners which went wide and long.
The victory for Chen was his first in the World Tour since the 2018 edition of this very event. He also became the first player since India's Vimal Kumar in 1984 to retain the French Open title. With the Olympic Games less than a year away, this is a great sign for him and China.