Badminton: Zii Jia prepared to fight through gruelling run

WHAT concerns Lee Zii Jia, it is survival of the fittest at the Malaysian Open as the majority of players are in their third tournament in four weeks.

The grueling run began with back-to-back Indonesia Masters (June 7-12) and Indonesian Open (June 14-19), while the home tournament got underway at Axiata Arena on Tuesday after a week’s hiatus.

A spate of eliminations in the running match is already an indication of the physical strain and Zii Jia, who had been playing with a hip injury, managed to get through the first round unscathed after beating Nhat Nguyen of Ireland 21-15, 21-2. 11 had defeated 47 minutes. “Most of the players who compete in this tournament are tired and that (hip injury) is no excuse.

“This tournament is about who can withstand the physical test to the end,” said the world No. 5.

“I still have to get used to the windy conditions in the stadium, but playing in front of a home crowd is a boost. For me today (yesterday) was like a normal match.”

Zii Jia’s second round opponent, Shesar Hiren of Indonesia, advanced to the second round after Rasmus Gemke of Denmark was injured in the second game, 9-11 down. Gemke had won the first game 21-15.

Zii Jia believes he’s come a long way since losing in the first round of the Malaysian Open in 2019. “I’m more relaxed and mature in dealing with pressure now, and I also have the confidence to play in front of a big audience,” he said to Zii Jia.

“I will come prepared as it will be a tough game.”

Zii Jia has the advantage over Shesar as the Malaysian has won four of the seven games he has played so far.

Second seed Kento Momota also received a free ride after opponent Kantaphon Wancharoen retired, while qualifier P. Kashyap outplayed Heo Kwang-hee of South Korea 21-12, 21-17.

In the second round today, Momota meets Hong Kong’s Angus Ng Ka Long, while top seed Viktor Axelsen meets another Hong Kong shuttle, Lee Cheuk Yiu.

FIRST ROUND RESULTS

(Malaysian unless otherwise noted)

men’s singles

Lee Zii Jia v Nhat Nguyen (Irish) 21-15, 21-11; Lu Guangzu (Chn) bt Ng Tze Yong 21-16, 21-23, 21-18; Wang Tzu-wei (Tpe) vs. Kevin Cordon (Gua) 21-17, 21-7; Shesar Hiren (Ina) bt Rasmus Gemke (Den) 15-21, 11-9 (ret.); Kunlavut Vitidsarn (Tha) bt Zhao Junpeng (Chn) 21-19, 14-21, 21-15; P. Kashyap bt Heo Kwang-hee (Cor) 21-12, 21-17; Angus Ng Ka Long (Hkg) vs. Mark Caljouw (Ned) 21-18, 21-16; Kento Momota (Jpn) bt Cantaphone Wangcharoen (Tha) wo

men’s doubles

Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik vs. Akira Koga-Taichi Saito (Jpn) 21-18, 21-19; Supak Jomkoh-Kittinupong Kedren (Tha) bt Nur Azriyn Ayub-Lim Khim Wah 15-21, 21-14, 21-13; Mohd Ahsan-Hendra Setiawan (Ina) bt Ren Xiangyu-Tan Qiang (Chn) 17-21, 21-15, 21-14; Terry Hee-Loh Kean Hean (Sin) bt Kang Min-hyuk-Seo Seung-jae (Kor) 21-14, 21-19; Shohibul Fikri-Bagas Maulana (Ina) vs. Jones Jansen-Jan Voelker (D) 21:19, 21:6; Takuro Hoki-Yugo Kobayashi (Jpn) vs. Lu Ching-yao-Yang Po-han (Tpe) 14-21, 21-16, 21-13; He Jiting-Zhao Haodong (Chn) bt Boon Xin Yuan-Wong Tien Ci 21-10, 21-12; Choi Solgyu-Kim Wan Ho (Kor) vs. Kim Astrup-Anders Skaarup Rasmussen (Den) 24-22, 14-21, 21-17.

Ladies Singles

Nozomi Okuhara (Jpn) vs. Yvonne Li (D) 21-13, 21-9; Iris Wang (US) bt Saina Nehwal (Ind) 21-11, 21-17; Busanan Ongbamrungphan (Tha) vs. Kim Ga-eun (Kor) 22-20, 21-14; PV Sindhu (Ind) bt Pornpawee Chochuwong (Tha) 21-13, 21-17; Kristin Kuuba (Est) vs. Michelle Li (Can) 21-12, 21-18; Tai Tzu-ying (Tpe) bt Lianne Tan (Bel) 21-13, 21-9; Chen Yufei (Chn) bt Zhang Yiman (Chn) 21-18, 21-8; Phittayaporn Chaiwan (Tha) bt Fitriani Fitriani (Ina) 21-18, 21-15.

Ladies doubles

Pearly Tan-M. Thinaah bt Liu Xuanxuan-Xia Yuting (Chn) 22-20, 21-14; Anna Cheong-Teoh Mei Xing vs. Kate Frost-Moya Ryan (Irl) 21-12, 21-5; Febby Gani-Ribka Sugiarto (Ina) vs. Vivian Hoo-Lim Chiew Sien 21-18, 21-17; Zheng Shuxian-Zheng Yu (Chn) bt Jongkolphan Kititharakul-Rawinda Prajongjai (Tha) 21-10, 21-8; Lee Sho-hee-Shin Seung-chan (Kor) vs. Margot Lambert-Anne Tran (Fra) 21-16, 21-8; Mayu Matsutomo-Wakana Nagahara (Jpn) bt Ashwini Bhat-Shikah Gautam (Ind) 21-11, 21-14.

mixed double

Chen Tang Jie-Valeree Siow vs. Yuki Kaneko-Misaki Matsutomo (Jpn) 21-16, 14-21, 21-10; Mathias Christiansen-Alexandra Boje (Den) vs. Yuta Watanabe-Arisa Higashino (Jpn) 15-21, 21-17, 22-20; Terry Hee-Jessica Tan (Sin) vs. Hafiz Faizal-Serena Kani (Ina) 21-14, 21-18; Jones Jansen-Linda Efler (Ger) bt Soong Joo Ven-Goh Liu Ying 21-17, 21-18; Robin Tabeling-Selena Piek (Ned) bt Sumeeth Reddy-Ashwini Ponnappa (Ind) 21-15, 19-21, 21-17; Thom Gicquel-Delphine Delrue (Fra) bt Guo Xinwa-Zhang Shuxian (Chn) 21-15, 19-21, 21-16; Zheng Siwei-Huang Yaqiong (Chn) bt Hoo Pang Ron-Toh Ee Wei 21-17, 21-18; William Villeger-Anne Tran (Fra) v Mikkel Mikkelsen-Rikke Soby (Den) 21-16, 22-20.

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