Thailand Open champ Zii Jia wants to extend his good run at Malaysian Masters

A job well done: Lee Zii Jia celebrating after beating Hong Kong’s Angus Ng Ka Long in the final. — AFP

PETALING JAYA: It has been a while since a local player won the Malaysian Masters title and men’s singles shuttler Lee Zii Jia is hoping to change that this week.

Fresh off his long-awaited victory at the Thailand Open yesterday, world No. 10 Zii Jia has set his sights on the Malaysian Masters starting tomorrow at the Axiata Arena in Bukit Jalil.

Zii Jia took down Hong Kong’s Angus Ng Ka Long 21-11, 21-10 in 33 minutes to claim his second Thailand Open title, and wants the positives from Bangkok to spill over into the tournament in Kuala Lumpur this week.

“There’s not much time for me now after Thailand. I just hope that all these positives from the week in Thailand can keep going, especially since I’m competing at home next,” said Zii Jia.

“It has been a while since a local player won the Malaysian Masters, there’s no pressure but I’m looking forward to it,” he said after the win.

The last national men’s singles player to win the Masters was Datuk Lee Chong Wei back in 2016. In fact, Chong Wei was also the last Malaysian to win the higher-tiered Malaysian Open at the 2018 edition, which was his 12th home title.

Zii Jia can end the six-year wait for a home champion if he can continue his fine form.

For Zii Jia, winning the tournament in Thailand ended his seven-month wait for a title as he last won the Arctic Open in Finland last October.

The 26-year-old said the match against Angus was one of his best performances so far and wants to keep the confidence high as he heads home to compete.

“I’ve been trying to find my best performance and finally got it here,” said Zii Jia.

“I hope that I can keep the confidence and momentum going for the next tournament and get a good result at home.”

Angus’ performance in the final had paled in comparison to the form that saw him beating world champion Kunlavut Vitidsarn of Thailand in the semi-finals, allowing Zii Jia to win in just over 30 minutes.

This was the eighth meeting between Zii Jia and Angus, with both players now having won four games each.

“I felt really good in the game. I was enjoying the match so much and was focused on every single point,” he said.

“That’s a rare feeling and I hope to replicate it when competing at home next,” he said.

Zii Jia’s campaign at the Axiata Arena will begin by taking on China’s Zhao Junpeng in the opening round.

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