Blunt Axe and no Lee-thal weapon – it’s time out for Viktor and Zii Jia

PETALING JAYA: It will be time to regroup for Viktor Axelsen and Lee Zii Jia after both crashed out in the Swiss Open.

Both failed to live up to their top two seedings as they lost to Chou Tien-chen of Taiwan and Koki Watanabe of Japan respectively in the men’s singles semi-finals in Basel on Saturday.

World No. 1 Axelsen of Denmark was the overwhelming favourite, having won 16 out of his 18 meetings against Tien-chen but the former went down tamely 10-21, 15-21 while Zii Jia was also off-colour as he fell 11-21, 14-21 to the world No. 37 Watanabe.

Reigning world and Olympics champion Axelsen looked far from his best and the Taiwanese took full advantage.

Axelsen, who had only lost three times in the whole of last year, has now already tasted the same number of defeats this year.

The Dane’s other two losses was in the final of the Indian Open in January to Thailand’s Kunlavut Vitidsarn and in the second round of the All-England last week to national player Ng Tze Yong.

After the loss to Tien-chen, Axelsen said: “Out of Swiss Open after a loss to a well-playing Chou (Tien-chen), who clearly deserved the win.

“For me personally, I need some days with family, away from the courts and everything related to badminton in order to regroup and get back to a proper place mentally and physically.”It will be back to the drawing board for Zii Jia too. The loss was a setback for the world No. 4, who had shown good improvement lately by reaching back-to-back semi-finals.

The 24-year-old, who had also made the last four at the All-England last week, seemed to have put his poor run of form - which included six defeats in early rounds of tournaments prior to the Birmingham tourney – behind him.

The defeat to Watanabe, though, showed that Zii Jia still has plenty of work to do to regain his best form.

His next assignment is to defend his title in the Asian Championships in Dubai from April 25-30.

In the men’s doubles, independent pair Ong Yew Sin-Teo Ee Yi’s campaign also came to an end after they went down fighting 19-21, 21-17, 17-21 to India’s world No. 6 Satwiksairaj Rankireddy-Chirag Shetty.

On world No. 8 Yew Sin-Ee Yi’s defeat, independent coach Rosman Razak said: “Yew Sin-Ee Yi tried hard to win but their quality in the middle of the court today (Saturday) was not good enough.

“The Indian pair managed to counter attack well in that area.”It was still Yew Sin-Ee Yi’s best finish in a tournament this year after reaching the last eight twice in the Malaysian and Indian Opens in January.

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