PETALING JAYA: World No. 10 Lee Zii Jia needs to do a lot more to salvage his pride at the World Tour Finals today.
The odds are heavily stacked against the 22-year-old debutant, who is seen as the weakest player in Group A comprising Denmark’s world No. 4 Viktor Axelsen, Taiwan’s world No. 2 Chou Tien-chen and Indonesia’s Anthony Ginting who is ranked No. 6.
At the last two Thailand Opens, Zii Jia failed to reproduce the form that saw him reach the semi-finals of the All-England last year while Axelsen, who went on to win the title at the Arena Birmingham, picked up where he left off by powering to back-to-back victories at the Impact Arena in Bangkok.
Also victorious at the Spain Masters prior to the Covid-19 suspension, Axelsen has won four titles in as many tournaments on the World Tour and now boasts a 20-match unbeaten streak.
The Dane will look to ride on his fine momentum to bid for his third Finals crown, adding to his previous triumphs in 2016 and 2017.
Tien-chen, meanwhile, remains a formidable opponent with two semi-final outings in Thailand while Anthony is determined to go one better in the season-ending event after going down to Japan’s Kento Momota in the 2019 final.
It is also worth noting that the head-to-head records against these three rivals do not favour Zii Jia, especially against the Indonesian. Zii Jia lost both times in their previous encounters.
Zii Jia also lost two of his three meetings against Axelsen, with the last at the All-England semi-finals.
Against Tien-chen, Zii Jia’s tame defeat in the quarter-finals of the first Thai Open two weeks ago was his third successive and fourth overall loss in six meetings.
Coach Hendrawan hopes Zii Jia will rise to the occasion.
“Apart from preparing him in tactical aspects, we’re also trying our best to help Zii Jia rebuild his confidence, ” said Hendrawan.
“From the last two tournaments, it’s obvious he has lost both self-belief and his game... so that is our immediate focus.
“However, all is not lost yet. We hope he gives whatever he has left to fight until the end.”
Group A: Viktor Axelsen (Den), Chou Tien-chen (Tpe), Lee Zii Jia (Mas) and Anthony Ginting (Ina).
Group B: Anders Antonsen (Den), Wang Tzu-wei (Tpe), K. Srikanth (Ind) and Angus Ng Ka Long (Hkg).
Group A: Lee Yang-Wang Chi-lin (Tpe), Ong Yew Sin-Teo Ee Yi (Mas), Ben Lane-Sean Vendy (Eng) and Marcus Ellis-Chris Langridge (Eng).
Group B: Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik (Mas), Mohammad Ahsan-Hendra Setiawan (Ina), Vladimir Ivanov-Ivan Sozonov (Rus) and Choi Sol-gyu-Seo Seung-jae (Kor).
Group A: Carolina Marin (Spa), An Se-young (Kor), Michelle Li (Can) and Evgeniya Kosetskaya (Rus).
Group B: Tai Tzu-ying (Tpe), Ratchanok Intanon (Tha), Pornpawee Chochuwong (Tha) and P. V Sindhu (Ind).
Group A: Greysia Polii-Apriyani Rahayu (Ina), Lee So-hee-Shin Sheung-chan (Kor), Chow Mei Kuan-Lee Meng Yean (Mas) and Vivian Hoo-Yap Cheng Wen (Mas).
Group B: Kim So-yeong-Kong Hee-yong (Kor), Lauren Smith-Chloe Birch (Eng), Linda Efler-Isabel Herttrich (Ger) and Jongkolphan Kittitharakul-Rawinda Prajongjai (Tha).
Group A: Marcus Ellis-Lauren Smith (Eng), Dechapol Puavaranukroh-Sapsiree Taerattanachai (Tha), Praveen Jordan- Melati Oktavianti (Ina) and Seo Seung-jae-Chae Yu-jung (Kor).
Group B: Mark Lamsfuss-Isabel Herttrich (Ger), Thom Gicquel-Delphine Delrue (Fra), Goh Soon Huat-Shevon Lai Jemie (Mas) and Hafiz Faizal-Gloria Widjaja (Ina).