Zii Jia sets sights on defeating Kento and Anthony

PETALING JAYA: National No. 1 shuttler Lee Zii Jia (pic) has plenty of unfinished business when the badminton season resumes in Thailand next month.Foremost on the 22-year-old Zii Jia’s list-to-do is to get the better of world No. 1 Kento Momota of Japan and Indonesia’s No. 6 Anthony Ginting. Both players are the only world top-10 players he has failed to beat.

Before the Covid-19 outbreak in March, he was going great guns with semi-final appearances in the Malaysian Masters and All-England.

It was through these runs that he managed to earn his maiden wins over Denmark’s world No. 3 Anders Antonsen (after three meetings), Indonesia’s No. 7 Jonatan Christie (after five meetings) and China’s No. 9 Shi Yuqi (after three meetings).

Last year, he defeated several top 10 players – China’s Olympic champion Chen Long, Denmark’s former world champion Viktor Axelsen and Taiwan’s world No. 2 Chou Tien-chen.

“I was riding on a good momentum and enjoyed a few breakthrough wins before the pandemic put a stop to everything, ” said the 2019 SEA Games singles champion,

“That’s very unfortunate and untimely. You’ll never know what else I could have achieved if not for the pandemic.

“But this is beyond my control, so I can only accept it and move on.

“What’s important is to keep working hard in training, keep myself in the best of shape, so that I can immediately pick up where I left off once the season restarts.

“I want to continue the good progress I have built, especially with 2021 being a very important year with the staging of the Olympics and World Championships.”

The three tournaments in Thailand next month are the Yonex Thailand Open (Jan 12-17), Toyota Thailand Open (Jan 19-24) and the World Tour Finals (Jan27-31).

It is crucial for Zii Jia to overcome two-time world champion Momota and Anthony, the World Tour Finals runner-up, if he wants to establish himself as a medal contender at the major meets next year.

Momota and Anthony, alongside Axelsen, Antonsen, Chen Long and Yuqi are regarded as the frontrunners for the podium in Tokyo.

Zii Jia has played Momota six times with his latest defeat in the last four of the Malaysian Masters in January.

He also lost both his meetings against Anthony with the latest in the final of the Asia Mixed Team Championship in Manila in February.

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