PETALING JAYA: Top national shuttler Lee Zii Jia has paid the price for his lacklustre performance in the three back-to-back season finales of the World Tour in Bangkok last month.
The 22-year-old is no longer a world top 10 player after slipping to No. 11 in the latest world ranking lists that have been reopened after 11 months yesterday.
Zii Jia cracked the top 10 for the first time following a brilliant semi-final outing in his All-England debut in March last year.
He joined Lee Chong Wei and Liew Daren as the only three Malaysian men’s singles players to achieve the feat in the past decade.
Zii Jia was able to keep his new-found status since as the world rankings were frozen due to an unforeseen period of circuit suspension because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
With plenty of ranking points at stake last month, Zii Jia could have climbed higher but squandered the great opportunity after managing only one quarter-final result from the three meets.
As Zii Jia dropped out, top performers in Bangkok – women’s pair Chow Mei Kuan-Lee Meng Yean and mixed pair Goh Soon Huat-Shevon Lai Jemie – earned a well-deserved entry into the world top 10.
Mei Kuan-Meng Yean, the semi-finalists of the Thailand Open 1 and World Tour Finals, jumped four spots to No. 10 to mark their career-best ranking.
Their previous best position was No. 12 in November 2019.
As for Soon Huat-Shevon, they managed to improve from No. 12 to No. 10.
Their best-ever position was No. 6 back in September 2018.
It must be a consolation of sorts for them following their humbling exit from the semi-finals of the Tour Finals on Sunday.
In the men’s doubles, Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik’s runner-up finish at the Thailand Open II did little to boost their position as they remained No. 9 in the standings.
But they better mind their gap as their national No. 1 status could well be under threat with professional pairs Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong and Ong Yew Sin-Teo Ee Yi making big strides too.
Former world No. 1 V Shem-Wee Kiong gained three spots to No. 11 thanks to their runner-up finish at the Thailand Open 1, while Yew Sin-Ee Yi shot up to No. 13 from No. 15.
Young pairs Pearly Tan-M. Thinaah and Hoo Pang Ron-Cheah Yee See have also been well rewarded for their superb showings in Bangkok by breaking into the top 30 of the women’s doubles and mixed doubles rankings respectively.
Pearly-Thinaah, who made the quarter-finals in both the Opens, are now the world No. 30, an improvement of nine places from where they were, while Pang Ron-Yee See, the surprise semi-finalists of the second Open, reach their career-best No. 28 after surging from No. 35.
Now that they are in the top 30, these two pairs can expect to feature regularly in top tier World Tour events for months to come.
Men’s singles: 1. Kento Momota (Jpn), 2. Viktor Axelsen (Den), 3. Anders Antonsen (Den), 4. Chou Tien-chen (Tpe), 5. Anthony Ginting (Ina), 6. Chen Long (Chn), 7. Jonatan Christie (Ina), 8. Angus Ng (Hkg), 9. Wang Tzu-wei (Tpe), 10. Shi Yuqi (Chn).
Selected Malaysians: 11. Lee Zii Jia, 33. Liew Daren, 70. Soong Joo Ven, 78. Cheam June Wei.
Men’s doubles: 1. Marcus Fernaldi-Kevin Sanjaya (Ina), 2. Hendra Setiawan-Mohammad Ahsan (In), 3. Lee Yang-Wang Chi-lin (Tpe), 4. Li Junhui-Liu Yuchen (Chn), 5. Takeshi Kamura-Keigo Sonoda (Jpn), 6. Hiroyuki Endo-Yuta Watanabe (Jpn), 7. Fajar Alfian-Rian Ardianto (Ina), 8. Choi Sol-gyu-Seo Seung-jae (Kor), 9. Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik (Mas), 10. Satwiksairaj Rankireddy-Chirag Shetty (Ind).
Selected Malaysians: 11. Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong, 13. Ong Yew Sin-Teo Ee Yi, 27. Goh Sze Fei-Nur Izzudin Rumsani, 84. Low Hang Yee-Ng Eng Cheong.
Women’s singles: 1. Tai Tzu-ying (Tpe), 2 Chen Yufei (Chn), 3. Carolina Marin (Spa), 4. Nozomi Okuhara (Jpn), 5. Akane Yamaguchi (Jpn), 6. Ratchanok Intanon (Tha), 7. P. V. Sindhu (Ind), 8. An Se-young (Kor), 9. He Bingjiao (Chn), 10. Michelle Li (Can).
Selected Malaysians: 32. Soniia Cheah, 62. S. Kisona, 127. Lee Ying Ying, 145. Goh Jin Wei.
Women’s doubles: 1. Yuki Fukushima-Sayaka Hirota (Jpn), 2. Chen Qingchen-Jia Yifan (Chn), 3. Mayu Matsumoto-Wakana Nagahara (Jpn), 4. Lee So-hee-Shin Sheung-chan (Kor), 5. Kim So-yeong-Kong Hee-Yong (Kor), 6. Greysia Polii-Apriyani Rahayu (Ina), 7. Du Yue-Li Yinhui (Chn), 8. Jongkolphan Kititharakul-Rawinda Prajongjai (Tha), 9. Chang Ye-na-Kim Hye-rin (Kor), 10. Chow Mei Kuan-Lee Meng Yean (Mas).
Selected Malaysians: 17. Vivian Hoo-Yap Cheng Wen, 30. Pearly Tan-M. Thinaah, 69. Yap Ling-Teoh Mei Xing.
Mixed doubles: 1. Zheng Siwei-Huang Yaqiong (Chn), 2. Dechapol Puavaranukroh-Sapsiree Taerattanachai (Tha), 3. Wang Yilyu-Huang Dongping (Chn), 4. Praveen Jordan-Melati Oktavianti (Ina), 5. Seo Seung-jae-Chae Yu-jung (Kor), 6. Yuta Watanabe-Arisa Higashino (Jpn), 7. Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying (Mas), 8. Hafiz Faizal-Gloria Widjaja (Ina), 9. Marcus Ellis-Lauren Smith (Eng), 10. Goh Soon Huat-Shevon Lai Jemie (Mas).
Selected Malaysians: 12. Tan Kian Meng-Lai Pei Jing, 28. Hoo Pang Ron-Cheah Yee See, 59. Chen Tang Jie-Peck Yen Wei, 76. Man Wei Chong-Pearly Tan.