PETALING JAYA: Singles shuttler Lee Zii Jia showed that he has found his mojo after smashing his way confidently to the men's singles final in the Denmark Open.
After months of struggling with poor form, the independent shuttler Zii Jia turned on the power to beat former world champion Loh Kean Yew of Singapore 21-18, 21-15 to set-up a duel with Shi Yuqi of China on Sunday.
Kean Yew had upstaged home favourite Victor Axelsen in the quarter-finals but yesterday, he ran out of gas after giving a good fight in the opener.
Zia Jia's next opponent will not be a pushover as Yuqi, who is making a comeback after an internal ban, fought tooth and nail to beat Kodai Naraoka of Japan 21-15, 9-21, 24-22 in another semi-final match-up on Saturday to show that he was equally determined to come out of the rut.
Zii Jia was just happy to reach his first Denmark Open final.
"I was surprised to face Kean Yew instead of Viktor but I was prepared for Kean Yew and his powerful smashes. I'm here in the final because I played more patiently," said Zii Jia.
"I have watched Yuqi's match here and will discuss with my coach on how to face him."
Zii Jia has beaten Yuqi once in three meetings but the last meeting between the two was at the Malaysian Masters in 2020, which Zii Jia won.
Zii Jia admitted that there had been positive changes in him after going through a poor season in the second half of the year as an independent player, which include the disappointment of losing early in the World Championships in Tokyo.
"It has been a challenge but I've chosen this path (to be an independent player). It's a journey, I've to finish it, I'll never stop," he said.
"Reaching the first Denmark Open final is a breakthrough for me, especially after not doing so well in the last two tournaments. I will give my best."
Zii Jia is the only Malaysian left standing after all doubles representatives crashed out - Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi YIk (lost 17-21, 21-17, 17-21 to Marcus Fernaldi-Kevin Sanjaya of Indonesia), Ong Yew Sin-Teo Ee Yi (lost 16-21, 20-22 to Fajar Alfian-Rian Ardianto of Indonesia) and Goh Soon Huat-Shevon Lai Jemie (lost to Zheng Siwei-Huang Yaqiong of China 16-21, 22-24) - in the semi-finals.
THE FINAL FIXTURES (Follow the order below from 6pm Malaysian time onwards)
Mixed doubles: Fen Yanzhe-Huang Dongping (Chn) vs Sheng Siwei-Huang Yaqiong (Chn)
Women's doubles: Chen Qingchen-Jia Yifan (Chn) vs Baek Ha-na-Lee So-hee (Kor)
Men's doubles: Marcus Fernaldi-Kevin Sanjaya (Ina) vs Fajar Alfian-Rian Ardianto (Ina)
Women's singles: He Bingjiao (Chn) vs Chen Yufei (Chn)
Men's singles: Lee Zii Jia (Mas) vs Shi Yuqi (Chn)