PETALING JAYA: Lee Zii Jia has fallen back in love with badminton.
This is the sentiment expressed by the world No. 4 after his 19-21, 13-21 semi-final defeat to Shi Yuqi of China in the All-England at the Utilita Arena in Birmingham on Saturday.
The independent shuttler had been miserable before the All-England.
His confession is understandable, though, considering that he had suffered a poor run of form that included early round exits in his past six individual competitions.
In fact, his Instagram message “I’m ... done” after an early defeat at the German Open underlined the depth of his frustration.
The 24-year-old Zii Jia has now declared that he is in a much better place than he was in the past few months.
“Previously, there was a period that was quite stressful for me, and even at one point when I felt that I had fallen out of love with badminton,” admitted the 2021 All-England champion in a post-match interview.
“Whenever I step into the arena or court, I would be frowning and not feeling good with myself.
“So I’m really happy to regain this love for badminton here (in Birmingham).’’
And Zii Jia admitted the undying support from his fans was another reason for enjoying the game again.
“Birmingham is special as I’ve always received strong support from all the fans here, even when I played here during the Covid-19 pandemic (in 2020 and 2021) and this has made me fall in love with the sport again,” said Zii Jia.
Zii Jia has always managed to rise to the occasion in the All-England, having reached the semi-finals in his previous outings in 2020 and 2022.
On areas where he needed to improve to move forward, Zii Jia said: “In terms of tactics, I need to add a few more strings to my bow.
“Also, my front court, net control as well as my rear court execution need to be improved.
“These are for my overall development in the future and not just when I face Yuqi again.”
Zii Jia’s next assignment will be the Swiss Open which starts tomorrow in Basel.
He needs to be on his toes from the beginning as he has been drawn to face world No. 14 Li Shifeng of China in the first round.