| Ning Zhang of China poses with her gold medal in Birmingham on Sunday. (AFP)
Birmingham: Fifth seed Xia Xuanze of China, a bronze medallist at the Sydney Olympics, won the world badminton title on Sunday, battling past Wong Choong Hann of Malaysia 15-6, 13-15, 15-6.
In a thrilling 80-minute final, Xia seemed to be in charge when leading 12-9 in the second set, but ninth-seed Wong fought back bravely to level at 13-13 and then tie the match at 1-1.
It was nip and tuck in the decider until 6-6, but Xia slowly gained control to clinch the title on his second match point.
The two men have met eight times in their careers, with the Chinese player having won all eight. Xia, 25, the Japan Open winner in April and the All-England champion in 2000, told reporters: “When I got to 8-6 in the third, it increased my confidence and I felt I could go on from there.”
He added that he had refused to be put off by the loss of the second set: “With the years of experience, you can learn how to deal with situations like this.
Wong, 26, the China Open winner last year, acknowledged the 8-0 head-to-head in Xia’s favour was a problem, saying: “I think I have to work on it physically and mentally to overcome this barrier.”
Earlier, women’s singles titleholder Gong Ruina was deposed 6-11, 3-11 in the final by Chinese compatriot Zhang Ning.
Gong led 4-0 in the first game but once Zhang found her stride she was generally in control, rounding off a fine week in which her other scalps have included the 1999 world champion Camilla Martin of Denmark.
China landed three titles on the day, the women’s doubles going to defending champions Gao Ling and Huang Sui who beat compatriots Wei Yili and Zhao Tingting 15-8, 15-11.
The mixed doubles crown was won by South Korea’s Kim Dong-moon and Ra Kyung-min who beat titleholders Zhang Jun and Gao Ling 15-7 15-8. Fourth seeded Lars Paaske and Jonas Rasmussen of Denmark beat Sigit Budiarto and Candra Wijaya of Indonesia 15-7, 13-15, 15-13 for men’s doubles title. (Reuters)