PETALING JAYA: A fresher Lee Zii Jia has gotten off to a flying start in the World Tour Finals.
Zii Jia, whose confidence was dealt a cruel blow after a first round defeat in the Indonesian Open last week, showed better composure in his 21-15, 21-16 win against Kunlavut Vitidsarn of Thailand in the first Group A match in Bali yesterday.
It was also a morale-boosting win for Zii Jia as he had lost to Vitidsarn in the semi-finals of the Swiss Open in March.
With his positive start, Zii Jia has sparked a bright chance to advance to the semi-finals. Only the top two in the group will make it to the top-four knockout round.
The Malaysian will play Toma Junior Popov of France today. The French player went down 14-21, 16-21 to K. Srikanth of India in another match.
National singles head coach Hendrawan was happy to see the transformation in Zii Jia.
“Zii Jia played much better compared to last week. He looks and feels fresh mentally. His focus and fighting spirit have improved, which were evident in the match against the Thai today,” said Hendrawan.
“I guess, with so many tournaments slated in one stretch, those who are fresh will have a better chance to go far. They will be the lucky lot.
“One opponent is down, we will aim for another. I believe Zii Jia will put his best foot forward in every match.”
It was also a good start for independent shuttlers Ong Yew Sin-Teo Ee Yi as they stayed solid to beat Christo Popov and his sibling Toma 21-16, 21-19 in the Group B doubles match.
They will play homesters Pramudya Kusumawardhana-Yeremia Erich in a must-win match today. If they win, they will have a good chance to enter the semi-finals with the group favourites Takuro Hoki-Yugo Kobayashi of Japan.
In the mixed doubles, Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying kept alive their hopes of making the top four when they trounced their teammates Tan Kian Meng-Lai Pei Jing 21-14, 21-13.
The 2016 Rio Olympic Games winners Peng Soon-Liu Ying face Mathias Christiansen-Alexandra Boje of Denmark next while Kian Meng-Pei Jing have a tough job to go through as they meet Tokyo Games bronze medallists Yuta Watanabe-Arisa Higashino of Japan next. Men’s singles
Group A: Viktor Axelsen (Den) bt Rasmus Gemke (Den) 5-1, rtd; Lakshya Sen (Ind) bt Kento Momota (Jpn) 1-1, rtd.
Group B: Lee Zii Jia (Mas) bt Kunlavut Vitidsarn (Tha) 21-15, 21-16; K. Srikanth (Ind) bt Toma Junior Popov (Fra) 21-14 21-16.
Group A: Kim Astrup-Anders Skaarup Rasmussen (Den) bt Satwiksairaj Rankireddy-Chirag Shetty (Ind) 21-16, 21-5; Marcus Fernaldi-Kevin Sanjaya (Ina) bt Lee Yang-Wang Chi-lin (Tpe) 23-21, 21-19.
Group B: Takuro Hoki-Yugo Kobayashi (Jpn) bt Pramudya Kusumawardhana-Yeremia Erich (Ina) 21-14, 21-19; Ong Yew Sin-Teo Ee Yi (Mas) bt Christo Popov-Toma Junior Popov (Fra) 21-16, 21-19.
Group A: Pornpawee Chochuwong (Tha) bt Yvonne Li (Ger) 21-18, 21-18; P.V. Sindhu (Ind) bt Line Christophersen (Den) 21-14, 21-16.
Group B: Akane Yamaguchi (Jpn) bt Yeo Jia-min (Sin) 21-11, 21-14; An Se-young (Kor) bt Busanan Ongbamrungphan (Tha) 21-16, 21-5.
Group A: Kim So-yeong-Kong Hee-yong (Kor) bt Pearly Tan-M. Thinaah (Mas) 21-14 21-14; Greysia Polii-Apriyani Rahayu (Ina) bt Jongkolphan Kititharakul-Rawinda Prajongjai (Tha) 21-15, 21-12
Group B: Nami Matsuyama-Chiharu Shida (Jpn) bt Ashwini Ponnappa-Reddy N. Sikki (Ind) 21-14, 21-18; Gabriela Stoeva-Stefani Stoeva (Bul) bt Chloe Birch-Lauren Smith (Eng) 21-12 21-11.
Group A: Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying (Mas) bt Tan Kian Meng-Lai Pei Jing (Mas) 21-14, 21-13; Yuta Watanabe-Arisa Higashino (Jpn) bt Mathias Christiansen-Alexandra Boje (Den) 21-12, 21-15.
Group B: Dechapol Puavaranukroh-Sapsiree Taerattanachai (Tha) bt Praveen Jordan-Melati Daeva (Ina) 21-14, 10-21, 21-11; Tang Chun Man-Tse Ying Suet (Hkg) bt Marcus Ellis-Lauren Smith (Eng) 21-11, 21-16.