Srikanth walkover a blessing in disguise for Zii Jia, says Hendrawan

PETALING JAYA: A much awaited first-time men’s singles clash between Lee Zii Jia and K. Srikanth of India did not materialise but head coach Hendrawan is just fine with it.

Eighth seeded Zii Jia was given a walkover after the 2018 Commonwealth Games silver medal winner Srikanth pulled out due to a calf injury in the second round of the Yonex Thailand Open at the Impact Arena in Bangkok yesterday.

“He is injured, so I did not get a chance to play against him. So far, all has been good for me, ” said Zii Jia, who is happy to reach the quarter-finals.

On Wednesday, Zii Jia battled for 55 minutes to beat H.S. Prannoy of India 13-21,21-14,21-8 in the opening match.

He will take on second seed Chou Tien-chen of Taiwan for a place in the semi-finals. In his last tournament before the Thailand Open, Zii Jia also reached the semi-finals before losing to eventual champion Viktor Axelsen of Denmark in the All-England.

Hendrawan had hoped to see Zii Jia play against Srikanth but accepted it as a blessing in disguise.

“It would have been good for Zii Jia to keep the momentum going as the match against Srikanth would have been a good test for him, ” said Hendrawan.

“Anyway, I’ll take this break on a positive note. After all, we have three tournaments at a stretch, and Zii Jia can have a short break to regroup for his quarter-final match.”

The Malaysian has played against world No. 2 Tien-chen five times but won twice.

Their first encounter was at the 2017 Taiwan Open. Then, an inexperienced Zii Jia lost to Tien-chen but a year later, Zii Jia exacted sweet revenge at the same tournament.

Zii Jia also won at the 2019 Indonesian Masters before losing at the last two meetings last year in the German Open and Thailand Open.

National No. 1 Zii Jia is the only Malaysian singles player left standing in the tournament after the gallant run of independent shuttler Liew Daren ended yesterday.

A day after slewing world No. 3 Anders Antonsen of Denmark in the opening round, independent shuttler Daren ran out of steam when he lost 14-21,17-21 to Hong Kong’s Lee Cheuk Yiu in the second round. It was Daren’s first defeat to the 24-year-old.

Cheuk Yiu will take on compatriot Angus Ng Ka Long in the last eight today.

The other quarter-final matches will be battles between players from Denmark and Indonesia as Viktor Axelsen takes on Jonatan Christie and Rasmus Gemke faces off against Anthony Ginting.

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