KUALA LUMPUR: Lee Zii Jia’s deadly backhand smash that stunned world No. 1 Kento Momota twice at the Korean Open a fortnight ago has been the talk of the badminton world recently.
However, the 38-year-old Taufik Hidayat revealed he has yet to catch the Malaysian pulling off the move.
Zii Jia lost the quarter-final match 15-21,19-21 to the Japanese, who went on to win the tournament but the Taufik-inspired move stole the limelight.
Zii Jia himself shared the video of his stunning backhand smash on his Instagram account and has since attracted nearly 42,000 views.
The video came with a caption: “That Taufik backhand I always used to train since I was a kid, finally I did it.”
Taufik, who was in town on Saturday for a Yonex meet-fans-session, said: “I’m aware about it but I haven’t seen the video yet.
“But it’s not easy to do it. It takes lots of practice to get it right. I’m very honoured to know it was me who inspired him (in pulling off that backhand smash).” While Taufik admitted that he doesn’t follow Zii Jia’s progress much, he hopes the world No. 15 can be the answer to Malaysia’s frustrating search for the next Lee Chong Wei.
“I know Zii Jia but I haven’t really watched him play. I hope his game will continue to grow and he can eventually become the next Lee Chong Wei, ” said the 2004 Athens Olympics gold medallist.“I know the strength of the Malaysian men’s singles department is not great at the moment, so let’s just hope Zii Jia will be the one. I wish him all the best.”
Meanwhile, Taufik believes the men’s singles competition at next year’s Tokyo Olympics will see an open contest despite Momota looking to be the man to beat at the moment.
“Although Momota is very consistent at the moment with him winning many titles, I still think everyone stands a chance to win the gold in Tokyo, ” said Taufik. “We can’t rule out the rest... my compatriots Anthony (Ginting) and Jonatan (Christie) as well as top players from China and Taiwan.
“Momota definitely has a slight edge but I wouldn’t say the gold medal is his to lose.”
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