PETALING JAYA: The World Tour season is set to resume in three months but top national shuttler Lee Zii Jia is not about to get too excited.
Instead, the world No. 10 has other concerns, one of them being the scary thought of having to play a whopping 11 tournaments in 16 weeks in the Badminton World Federation’s (BWF) jam-packed revamped schedule which starts in August.
As one the world’s top 15 singles shuttlers, Zii Jia is obliged to compete in a minimum of 12 World Tour events (in the top four tiers) to avoid being penalised.
It is mandatory for the “Top Committed Players” to play in Tier 1 tournaments like the World Tour Finals (if they qualify) and all three Tier 2 (All-England equivalent) tournaments. They also have to take part in all five Tier 3 (Malaysian Open equivalent) meets and four of the seven Tier 4 (Malaysian Masters equivalent) tournaments.
Zii Jia has only taken part in three – one Tier 2 (All-England) and two Tier 4 tournaments – Malaysian Masters and Indonesian Masters – before the season was halted in mid-March.
This leaves the SEA Games champion with nine more – Tier 2 tournaments in China (Sept 15-20), Indonesia (Nov 17-22); Tier 3 Opens in Japan (Sept 22-27), Denmark (Oct 13-18), France (Oct 20-25), Fuzhou, China (Nov 3-8) and Malaysia (Nov 24-29); and Tier 4 meets in South Korea (Sept 8-13), Hong Kong (Nov 10-15), Thailand (Dec 1-6) and India (Dec 8-13).Currently ranked fifth in the Race to Guangzhou rankings, Zii Jia could also be in line to make the top eight cut for the season-ending Finals from Dec 16-20.
And then, there’s the Thomas Cup Finals in Aarhus, Denmark from Oct 3-11 where Zii Jia will spearhead Malaysia’s challenge.
“It’s going to be extremely tough and I wonder how are we going to cope with so many back-to-back tournaments, ” stressed Zii Jia.
“I think everyone is going to struggle, especially when most of us haven’t really played competitive badminton since March. How are we going to recover in time and be at our best week-in, week-out?
“I hope BWF will grant us an exception this time by reducing the number of events the top players need to fulfil.”
Besides, Zii Jia also feels it was still way too early to be certain that the season would restart as planned.
“I still have a lot of doubts. A lot countries are represented on the international circuit, so can we all really travel again and start competing by September?” asked Zii Jia.
Said men’s singles head coach Hendrawan: “It’s understandable that BWF had no options but to fit in as many tournaments as possible in the last few months of the season, but I really do hope they realise there’s no way a player can play five to six tournaments at one go.”
“If they were to be required to commit week in, week out, I’m afraid they will be injured. We don’t want this to happen and players will have to be sidelined again.”
However, according to the BWF’s communication and media manager Lloyd Green, more information on the revised calendar and players status will be released on Wednesday.
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