Unwell Zii Jia suffers another early exit at home again

Running out of steam: Lee Zii Jia drops on the floor due to exhaustion after the second-round match against Taiwan’s Lin Chun-yi. — IZZRAFIQ ALIAS/The Star

A DIZZY spell put an end to Lee Zii Jia’s hopes of home glory.

Zii Jia’s target of reaching the quarter-finals of the Malaysian Masters were dashed after he suffered a 19-21, 21-16, 15-21 defeat to Taiwan’s world No. 24 Lin Chun-yi in the second round at Axiata Arena yesterday.

The independent men’s singles shuttler looked as though he was dragging himself from the start of the opening game but grew even more tired the longer the match progressed but his opponent seemed to sense this and pushed him into playing long rallies.The strategy worked for Thailand Masters champion Chun-yi, who went on to claim one of the biggest wins of his career.

Zii Jia tried to step on the gas but with a wobbly leg, he was unable to retrieve the shuttle that was sent to all corners of the court by his clever opponent.

It looks like his new coach Wong Tat Meng has to whip him up to be physically stronger when the latter starts coaching him in July.

Team manager Lee Zii Yi, who is also Zii Jia’s sister, said: “First of all, I’m sorry as Zii Jia could not attend the postmatch interview because he was feeling dizzy after the match.

“He had tried his best to prepare well for this tournament but unfortunately he was not in the best condition.

“Zii Jia has not been feeling well since returning from the Sudirman Cup in Suzhou.

“He took Panadol and had some rest and tried to win but it was not enough.

“It was a long journey back from Suzhou and we know that every player went through this but Zii Jia could not recover well.”

Zii Jia will next seek better fortunes in the Singapore Open from June 6-11.

Meanwhile, Zii Jia’s conqueror Chun-yi said: “I had worked hard to improve my stamina and that helped me a lot in today’s (yesterday’s) match.

“In the first game, Zii Jia and I were both still trying to gauge each other’s game and I was a bit lucky to win the crucial points.

“In the third game, I noticed that Zii Jia’s stamina had dropped and I tried to play more rallies to make him run and this worked in my favour in the end.”

Chun-yi will take on Japan’s Kodai Naraoka in the last eight today.

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