Zii Jia can chase bigger goals after stunning victory

Back to you: Lee Zii Jia returning a shot to China’s Li Shifeng during the Thailand Open men’s singles final in Bangkok. — AFP

PETALING JAYA: Lee Zii Jia’s stunning comeback to capture the Thailand Open title has raised Malaysia’s hope to expect bigger things from the national No. 1.

His imperious form is a good sign as he gears up for the Malaysian Open next month, Commonwealth Games in July and more importantly the World Championships in August.

Fans will be hoping for the 24-year-old, who has never won the home open title, to dominate just like former great Datuk Lee Chong Wei.

Yesterday, the world No. 6 Zii Jia, who overturned a 4-12 deficit to win against Indonesia’s Shesar Hiren in the quarter-finals, again crawled back into the game in the title match against China’s Li Shifeng at the Impact Arena in Bangkok.

The win over the unseeded Shifeng was arguably even more impressive as the Malaysian lost the first game 17-21 and trailed for most of the deciding game.

He was behind 4-11 before gradually pulling closer and closer and had to save match point at 19-20 before sealing the match.

With the win, Zii Jia has captured back-to-back individual titles for the first time in his career. He won the Asian Championships in Manila recently. He is only the third Malaysian to win the Thailand Open after Yong Hock Kin (2001) and Hafiz Hashim (2005).

Although overjoyed with Zii Jia’s consistent performance since turning professional in January, his coach Indra Wijaya does not want to overthink his charge’s future exploits.

“Today’s win is special for Zii Jia, myself as his coach, and his team,” said Wijaya.

“I’m pleased with his win as he showed maturity to overcome the deep trouble he was in. He was trailing but overcame the deficit in an excellent way. He never gave up.

“He will be competing in the Indonesian and Malaysian Opens next. We will let him be himself and enjoy the game.

“The process is ongoing and we will continue to learn as he aims to become better in every tournament.”



Men’s singles: Lee Zii Jia bt Li Shifeng (Chn) 17-21, 21-11, 23-21.

Men’s doubles: Takuro Hoki-Yugo Kobayashi (Jpn) bt Fajar Alfian-Rian Ardianto (Ina) 13-4 (ret.).

Women’s singles: Tai Tzu-ying (Tpe) bt Chen Yufei (Chn) 21-15, 17-21, 21-12.

Women’s doubles: Nami Matsuyama-Chiharu Shida (Jpn) bt Mayu Matsumoto-Wakana Nagahara (Jpn) 17-21, 21-15, 26-24.

Mixed doubles: Zheng Siwei-Huang Yaqiong (Chn) bt Dechapol Puavaranukroh-Sapsiree Taerattanachai (Tha) 21-12, 18-21, 21-14.

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