Zii Jia admits he’s left far behind after defeat to Axelsen

Pump it up: Lee Zii Jia has to double his efforts if he harbours hopes of winning a medal at the Paris Olympics. He lost 16-21, 22-24 to Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen in the final group match on Tuesday.

CHENGDU: Truth is painful but that is what professional shuttler Lee Zii Jia had to deal with after losing to Denmark’s world No. 1 Viktor Axelsen in the Thomas Cup Finals.

The world No. 10 suffered a 16-21, 22-24 defeat to Axelsen in the first singles and Malaysia went on to lose narrowly 2-3 in the team’s last Group D match at the High Tech Zone Sports Center in Chengdu on Tuesday.

It was Zii Jia’s first meeting with Axelsen in a full match since the semi-finals of the 2022 Indonesian Open which the Dane won in three close games.

The 26-year-old believes that the defeat shows he still has a lot of catching up to do with the reigning Olympic champion.

And he has to double the effort if he harbours hope of aiming for a medal in this first Olympic Games in Paris in just three months down the road.

“It’s been quite long since I last played him and this match was a test for me to see where I stand,” said Zii Jia.

“I can see that I need to improve a lot to catch up to him. I’m disappointed as I had higher expectations on myself.

“Over the past two to three years, I have been struggling to find my best form and I need to work harder.

“For now, I need to regain my self-confidence ahead of the quarter-finals,” added Zii Jia.

The 26-year-old had started the team meet well with a 21-18, 21-18 victory over Hong Kong’s world No. 15 Lee Cheuk Yiu to lead Malaysia to a 5-0 win in the first group match and will be out to regain that form.

Despite the defeat to Denmark, Malaysia have booked their spot in the last eight after also beating Algeria 5-0 in the group.

The team though will need Zii Jia fully firing again to go beyond the quarter-finals for the first time since the 2016 edition in Kunshan, China.

Since then, Malaysia have struggled to overcome the last eight hurdle, losing to Indonesia twice in 2018 and 2021 and India in 2022.

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Badminton , Lee Zii Jia , Thomas Cup Finals


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