Zii Jia offers no excuse for loss, says Gemke in his element


Not good enough: Lee Zii Jia lost 21-13. 23-25, 16-21 to Denmark’s Rasmus Gemke in the first round of the Indonesian Open. — Badminton Photo

PETALING JAYA: Lee Zii Jia refused to use his recent injury problems as an excuse after losing his opening match at the Indonesian Open.

The 23-year-old looked to be on his way to victory against Denmark’s Rasmus Gemke after winning his opening game comfortably and led 12-8 in the second before the world No. 13 stormed back to win the 67-minute contest 13-21, 25-23, 21-16.

There had been concerns over Zii Jia’s fitness going into the second tournament in Bali after he pulled out midway through his first-round clash, also against Gemke, at the Indonesian Masters due to a back injury.

However, Zii Jia revealed he has fully recovered and felt no pain during yesterday’s match and instead praised Gemke for being the better player of the day.

If anything, Gemke’s triumph over Zii Jia should not have come as a surprise as the Dane has never lost to the latter, including the other two meetings at the 2017 Bitburger Open and 2016 Belgian International.

“I was already back in good condition, it’s just that my opponent played much better and I have to admit that,” Zii Jia told RTM.

“Strategy wise, he did very well too.”

Despite another opening exit, the currently top-ranked Zii Jia is not expected to slip out of the top eight position on the Race to Bali standings, which is required to qualify for next week’s season finale.

Asked if there’s any part of his game that he needs to work on before the Tour Finals, Zii Jia replied: “There’s nothing urgent really. All I need to do is enjoy the moment and not think too much.

“I will take a good rest and then start preparing for the Finals as well as the World Championships (in Huelva, Spain from Dec 12-19).”

Zii Jia was not the only seeded player to be ousted on the opening day as Hong Kong’s eighth-seed Ng Ka Long was also sent packing 20-22, 13-21, 19-21 by Japan’s Kanta Tsuneyama.

Kento Momota, seeking to follow up his Indonesian Masters win last week, got off to a superb start by dispatching India’s rising star Lakhsya Sen 23-21, 21-15.

With Zii Jia out, Malaysian fans will turn to veteran Liew Daren to deliver the goods.

Daren opens his campaign against Asian Games champion Jonatan Christie today.

FIRST ROUND RESULTS

Men’s singles: Kento Momota (Jpn) bt Lakhsya Sen (Ind) 23-21, 21-15; Loh Kean Yew (Sin) bt P. Kashyap (Ind) 21-11, 21-14; Kanta Tsuneyama (Jpn) bt Ng Ka Long (Hkg) 22-20, 13-21, 21-19; Hans Kristian Vittinghus (Den) bt Kantaphon Wangcharoen (Tha) 21-18, 21-12; Chou Tien-chen (Tpe) bt Lee Cheuk Yiu (Hkg) 21-12, 21-14; Kenta Nishimoto (Jpn) bt Thomas Rouxel (Fra) 21-13, 21-13; Rasmus Gemke (Den) bt Lee Zii Jia (Mas) 13-21, 25-23, 21-16; Shesar Rhustavito (Ina) bt Sitthikorn Thammasin (Tha) 21-12, 15-21, 21-16.

Men’s doubles: Marcus Fernaldi-Kevin Sanjaya (Ina) bt Keiichiro Matsui-Yoshinori Takeuchi (Jpn) 12-21, 21-18, 21-15; Choi Sol-gyu-Kim Won-ho (Ind) bt M.R. Arjun (Ind) 22-20, 21-13; Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik (Mas) bt Mark Lamsfuss-Marvin Seidel (Ger) 25-23, 21-12; Ong Yew Sin-Teo Ee Yi (Mas) bt Tan Kian Meng-Tan Wee Kiong (Mas) 21-11, 21-11; Lee Yang-Wang Chi-lin (Tpe) bt Goh V Shem-Low Juan Shen (Mas) 21-14, 21-16; Goh Sze Fei-Nur Izzuddin Rumsani (Mas) bt Christo Popov-Toma Junior Popov (Fra) 22-20, 20-10; Kang Min-hyuk-Seo Seung-jae (Kor) bt Hiroki Okamura-Masayuki Onodera (Jpn) 9-21, 21-14, 21-16.

*Matches involving Malaysians only

Women’s doubles: Pearly Tan-M. Thinaah (Mas) bt Clara Azurmendi-Beatriz Corrales (Spa) 22-20, 21-19.

Mixed doubles: Tan Kian Meng-Lai Pei Jing (Mas) bt Goh Soon Huat-Shevon Lai Jemie (Mas) 22-20, 21-17; Chen Tang Jie-Peck Yen Wei (Mas) bt Yuki Kaneko-Misaki Matsutomo (Jpn) 19-21, 21-18, 21-15; Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying (Mas) bt Zachariah Sumanti-Hediana Julimarbela (Ina) 21-12, 21-17.

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