PETALING JAYA: National badminton singles ace Lee Zii Jia could not have asked for a better draw in the World Tour Finals which starts in Bali on Wednesday (Dec 1).
The All-England champion has avoided two of the world's best players at the moment – Denmark's Viktor Axelsen and Japan's Kento Momota – for the group campaign.
Zii Jia has been drawn in Group B together with K. Srikanth of India, three-time world junior champion Kunlavut Vitidsarn of Thailand and Toma Junior Popov of France.
Group A comprises Olympic champion Axelsen and world champion Momota, who will be challenged by India's rising star Lakhsya Sen and Denmark's Rasmus Gemke.
Only the top two finishers advance to the knockout round.
For Zii Jia, the seemingly less-intimidating path presents him with a good opportunity to rebound and cap the three-event series in Bali on a positive note.
Zii Jia's trip to Bali has been far from pleasant so far as he was forced to retire during his first round match against Gemke at the Indonesian Masters due to a nagging back problem.
A week later, he was ousted in the first round by the same opponent at the Indonesian Open.
In the men's doubles, Ong Yew Sin-Teo Ee Yi also landed themselves a good draw by escaping the "group of death", which sees world No. 1 Kevin Sanjaya-Marcus Fernaldi of Indonesia and Olympic gold medallists Lee Yang-Wang Chi-lin of Taiwan pitted together in Group A.
But the world No. 12 pair still have the in-form Japanese duo of Takuro Hoki-Yugo Kobayashi to deal with alongside up-and-coming Indonesian stars Pramudya Kusumawardana-Yeremia Rambitan and French brothers Christo and Toma Junior Popov.
Debutants Pearly Tan-M. Thinaah can count themselves unlucky after being handed a tough draw in the women's doubles.
They are in Group A with Thailand's Rawinda Prajongjai-Jongkolphan Kittitharakul, South Korea's Kim So-yeong-Kong Hee-yong (Kor) and home Olympic heroes Greysia Polii-Apriyani Rahayu.
But Pearly-Thinaah will be out to show that they're no pushovers. They have previously beaten both Rawinda-Jongkolphan and So-yeong-Hee-yong earlier this year.
The mixed doubles contest saw two Malaysian pairs – Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying and Tan Kian Meng-Lai Pei Jing – being bunched together in Group A together with Japan's Yuta Watanabe-Arisa Higashino and Mathias Christiansen-Alexandra Boje of Denmark.
It sparked Malaysian fans' hopes of seeing at least one of them make it to the semi-finals.
Group A: Viktor Axelsen (Den), Rasmus Gemke (Den), Lakhsya Sen (Ind), Kento Momota (Jpn)
Group B: Lee Zii Jia (Mas), K. Srikanth (Ind), Kunlavut Vitidsarn (Tha), Toma Junior Popov (Fra)
Group A: Marcus Fernaldi-Kevin Sanjaya (Ina), Kim Astrup-Anders Skaarup Rasmussen (Den), Lee Yang-Wang Chi-lin (Tpe), Satwiksairaj Rankireddy-Chirag Shetty (Ind)
Group B: Takuro Hoki-Yugo Kobayashi (Jpn), Ong Yew Sin-Teo Ee Yi (Mas), Pramudya Kusumawardana-Yeremia Rambitan (Ina), Christo Popov-Toma Junior Popov (Tpe)
Group A: Pornpawee Chochuwong (Tha), P.V. Sindhu (Ind), Yvonne Li (Ger), Line Christophersen (Den)
Group B: Akane Yamaguchi (Jpn), Busanan Ongbamrungphan (Tha), An Se-young (Kor), Yeo Jia Min (Sin)
Group A: Rawinda Prajongjai-Jongkolphan Kittitharakul (Tha), Kim So-yeong-Kong Hee-yong (Kor), Pearly Tan-M. Thinaah (Mas), Greysia Polii-Apriyani Rahayu (Ina)
Group B: Nami Matsuyama-Chiharu Shida (Jpn), Gabriela Stoeva-Stefanie Stoeva (Bul), Chloe Birch-Lauren Smith (Eng), Ashwini Ponnapa-N. Sikki Reddy (Ind)
Group A: Yuta Watanabe-Arisa Higashino, Mathias Christiansen-Alexandra Boje (Den), Tan Kian Meng-Lai Pei Jing (Mas), Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying (Mas)
Group B: Dechapol Puavaranukroh-Sapsiree Taerattanchai (Tha), Marcus Ellis-Lauren Smith (Eng), Tang Chun Man-Tse Ying Suet (Hkg), Praveen Jordan-Melati Oktavianti (Ina)