PETALING JAYA: Inconsistency and complacency may derail the country’s top singles shuttler Lee Zii Jia’s bid for a good outing at the Tokyo Olympics which is barely six months away.
This was certainly evident in his meltdown at the Toyota Thailand Open yesterday.
Although it was the 22-year-old’s second competitive return following a 10-month hiatus because of Covid-19, it was the world No. 10’s lack of consistency and determination that proved his undoing in the first two tournaments of the season.
Yesterday, in what was supposed to be a “winnable match”, Zii Jia shockingly squandered a massive 17-6 lead and seven match points in the second game to go down 21-18,25-27,19-21 to world No. 31 Sameer Verma of India.
Zii Jia’s early exit does not bode well especially when fans were expecting more from him after failing to impress at the Yonex Thailand Open last week.
Despite making the last eight, last year’s All-England semi-finalist was beaten rather tamely by world No. 2 Chou Tien-chen of Taiwan at the same venue last week.
Zii Jia had little words to offer for his “frustrating” defeat and admitted that the manner in which he threw away the second game served as a painful lesson.
“Sameer played better. I tried my best and I have to accept this frustrating defeat, ” said Zii Jia.
“I learned a lot from the second game, it is a huge lesson for me.
“I’ll analyse and review my performance with the coaches. I hope I’ll be able to bounce back.”
Meanwhile, head coach Hendrawan summed it up by saying Zii Jia remains a work in progress.
“We must admit that his performance is nowhere near his best, ” said the Indonesian.
“He’s struggling to cope with the pressure and at times, is hesitant in his execution... for instance, he’s in two minds whether to rally or go on attacking mode.
“We must re-evaluate his game and make necessary changes as his game can be easily read by most opponents now.”
The poor result will leave Zii Jia sweating over his participation in the World Tour Finals next week.
He needs to keep his eighth spot if he wants to make his debut in the season finale.
Close rivals such as 11th-placed Anthony Ginting of Indonesia, Thailand’s Kunlavut Vitidsarn (12th), Indonesia’s Jonatan Christie (13th), Lee Cheuk Yiu of Hong Kong (14th) will be looking to pounce on the opportunity to overtake him.
World No. 28 Nur Izzudin Rumsani-Goh Sze Fei were the other flops of the day.
The duo went down 21-13,13-21,17-21 to Thai scratch pair and unranked Supak Jomkoh-Kittinupong Kedren thus failing to follow up on their decent quarter-final outing last week.
Sze Fei said he was to blame for the defeat.
“My performance was very bad. I didn’t do my job very well, ” he said.
But Izzuddin jumped to his defence, revealing that his partner was troubled by an ankle problem sustained last week.
“Sze Fei hurt his ankle a little bit, so our rotation was out a bit. Still, that’s not an excuse for the loss.”
Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong, Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik and Ong Yew Sin-Teo Ee Yi all advanced to the last 16.
The other Malaysians in the second round are Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying and Goh Soon Huat-Shevon Lai Jemie in the mixed doubles.
Men’s singles: Shesar Hiren Rhustavito (Ina) bt Khosit Phetpradab (Tha) 21-13,21-13; K. Srikanth (Ind) bt Sitthikorn Thammasin (Tha) 21-11,21-11; Anthony Ginting (Ina) bt Sourabh Verma (Ind) 21-16,21-11; Rasmus Gemke (Den) bt P. Kashyap (Ind) 3-0 (rtd); Anders Antonsen (Den) bt Tanonsak Saensomboonsuk (Tha) 21-8,21-8; Sameer Verma (Ind) bt Lee Zii Jia (Mas) 18-21,27-25,21-19; Lee Cheuk Yiu (Hkg) bt Mark Caljouw (Ned) 13-21,25-23,22-20; Hans Kristian Vitthinghus (Den) bt Luis Penalver (Spa) 21-11,21-13.
Men’s doubles: Supak Jomkoh-Kittinupong Kedren (Tha) bt Goh Sze Fei-Nur Izzuddin Rumsani (Mas) 13-21,21-13,21-17; Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong (Mas) bt Kim Gi-jung-Lee Yong-dae (Kor) 6-2 (rtd); Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik (Mas) bt Weeraphat Phakjarung-Wongsathorn Thongkham (Tha) 21-10,21-18; Leo Rolly Carnando-Daniel Marthin (Ina) bt Kim Astrup-Anders Skaarup Rasmussen (Den) 17-21,21-15,21-19; Ong Yew Sin-Teo Ee Yi (Mas) bt Nipitphon Phuangphuapet-Tanupat Viriyangkura (Tha) 19-21,21-13,21-19; Mathias Christiansen-Niclas Nohr (Den) bt Bodin Isara-Maneepong Jongjit (Tha) 21-9,11-8 (rtd); Choi Sol-gyu-Seo Seung-jae (Kor) bt Ko Sung-hyun-Shin Beek-cheol (Kor) 15-21,21-15,21-17.
Women’s singles: Tai Tzu-ying (Tpe) bt Supanida Katethong (Tha) 21-16,21-11; Gregoria Mariska Tunjung (Ina) bt Sirada Roonpiboonsopit (Tha) 21-9,21-8; P. V. Sindhu (Ind) bt Busanan Ongbamrungphan (Tha) 21-17,21-13; S. Kisona (Mas) bt Doha Hany (Egy) 21-10,21-7; Ratchanok Intanon (Tha) bt Saina Nehwal (Ind) 21-17,21-8; Sung Ji-hyun (Kor) bt Soniia Cheah (Mas) 21-9,21-14; Iris Wang (US) bt Kim Ga-eun (Kor) 12-21,22-20,21-15.
Women’s doubles: Vivian Hoo-Yap Cheng Wen (Mas) bt Chloe Birch-Lauren Smith (Eng) 21-14,21-14; Alexandra Boje-Mette Poulsen (Den) bt Jin Yujia-Crystal Wong (Sin) 22-20,21-18; Greysia Polii-Apriyani Rahayu (Ina) bt Puttita Supajirakul-Sapsiree Taerattanachai (Tha) 21-12,14-21,21-8; Lee So-hee-Shin Sheung-chan (Kor) bt Benyapa Aimsaard-Nuntakarn Aimsaard (Tha) 21-10,21-6; Anastasiia Akchurina-Olga Morozova (Rus) bt Chayanit Chaladchalam-Phataimas Muenwong (Tha) 21-19,21-19.Mixed doubles: Dechapol Puavaranukroh-Sapsiree Taerattanachai (Tha) bt Robin Tabeling-Selena Piek (Ned) 21-14,21-19; Ko Sung-hyun-Eom Hye-won (Kor) bt Wongsathorn Thongkham-Thanapim Kaeenuntanong (Tha) 21-15,21-12; Tang Chun Man-Tse Ying Suet (Hkg) bt Nipitphon Phuangphuapet-Chasinee Korepap (Tha) 21-13,21-6; Satwiksairaj Rankireddy-Ashwini Ponnppa (Ind) bt Niclas Nohr-Amalie Magelund (Den) 23-21,21-18; Mark Lamsfuss-Isabel Herttrich (Ger) bt Oliver Leydon-Davis-Anona Pak (Nzl) 21-2,21-16; Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying (Mas) bt Jones Jansen-Kilasu Ostermeyer (Ger) 21-13,21-13; Goh Soon Huat-Shevon Lai Jemie (Mas) bt Ronan Labar-Anne Tran (Fra) 21-12,21-15.