Pro Zii Jia shows he still has fire in belly as he plods his way to quarters


Slogging it out: Lee Zii Jia will play Japan’s Kenta Nishimoto in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open today. — AP

PETALING JAYA: Men’s singles professional shuttler Lee Zii Jia is feeling the strain of competing in back-to-back tournaments as he made his way to the Australian Open quarter-finals.

World No. 8 Zii Jia took 41 minutes to beat compatriot Soong Joo Ven 21-18, 21-14 in the second round yesterday.

Although Zii Jia won in straight games against the world No. 78, the former All-England champion admitted that his physical condition is not at the optimum level in Australia.

“This is my fourth tournament in a row and I’m both tired mentally and physically,” said Zii Jia.

“I can see that my game play is slowing down but this is something that I just have to go through because everyone faces this challenge.

Zii Jia had earlier competed in the Thailand Open, Malaysian Masters and Indonesian Open but the Australian Open will be his final stop before the Paris Olympics Games next month.

Despite the fatigue, Zii Jia said he was happy to see consistency in his game, as he has made it to the quarter-finals in the recent tournaments.

He won in Thailand, finished runners up in Malaysia, and ended his run at the quarter-finals in Indonesia.

Zii Jia knows he has to raise his game when he faces world No. 11 hard-working Kenta Nishimoto of Japan next.

The Malaysian has won eight times out of 11 meetings in the past. In fact, in the last encounter at the Thomas Cup Finals in Chengdu, China, Zii Jia was one class above Nishimoto.

Meanwhile, mixed doubles pair Tan Kian Meng-Lai Pei Jing also advanced after winning against Australia’s Adam Jeffrey-Justine Villegas 21-7, 21-7 in the second round.

They will face compatriots Choong Hon Jian-Go Pei Kee, who defeated Australia’s Timotius Elbert-Maureen Clarissa 21-14, 21-6, in the quarter-finals today.

It was a day of double joy for Pei Jing and Hon Jian.

Pei Jing also made it to the quarter-finals in the women’s doubles with Lim Chiew Sien after both blew away India’s Rutaparna Panda-Swetaparna Panda 21-5, 21-9 in the last 16.

Hon Jian is also through to the men’s doubles quarters with Mohd Haikal Nazri after the duo bulldozed past Australia’s Aneesh Nirmal-Emmanuel Stephen 21-12, 21-8 to set up a meeting with Rizky Hidayat-Frengky Wijaya of Australia.

Hon Jian-Haikal will be joined by Wan Arif Wan Junaidi-Yap Roy King who also made it through by claiming victory over Australia and Englands’ Ooi Yi Hern-Steve Stallwood, winning 21-10, 21-9 and will play Taiwan’s Chen Zhi-ray-Lin Yu-chieh.

Youngsters Aaron Tai-Kang Khai Xing made it three Malaysian men’s doubles pair through to the quarters as they won 21-14, 21-8 against Australia’s Kanki Igawa-Ken Richardson.

They however, have a tall order against top seeds He Jiting-Ren Xiangyu of China in the quarter-finals.

Malaysians onlyMen’s singles: Lee Zii Jia bt Soong Joo Ven 21-18, 21-14.

Women’s singles: Pai Yu-po (Tpe) bt K. Letshanaa 21-14, 21-18.

Men’s doubles: Wan Arif Wan Junaidi-Yap Roy King bt Ooi Yi Hern-Steve Stallwood (Aus/Eng) 21-10, 21-9; Choong Hon Jian-Mohd Haikal Nazri bt Aneesh Nirmal-Emmanuel Stephen (Aus) 21-12, 21-8; Aaron Tai-Kang Khai Xing bt Kanki Igawa-Ken Richardson (Aus) 21-14, 21-8; Chen Zhi-ray-Lin Yu-chieh (Tpe) bt Keane Chok-Andy Kok 21-9, 21-8; Rizky Hidayat-Frengky Wijaya (Aus) bt Tan Wee Kiong-Nur Mohd Azriyn Ayub 14-21, 23-21, 21-19.

Women’s doubles: Lai Pei Jing-Lim Chiew Sien bt Rutaparna Panda-Swetaparna Panda (Ind) 21-5, 21-9.

Mixed doubles: Tan Kian Meng-Lai Pei Jing bt Adam Jeffrey-Justine Villegas (Aus) 21-7, 21-7; Choong Hon Jian-Go Pei Kee bt Timotius Elbert-Maureen Clarissa (Aus) 21-14, 21-6; Reginald Lee-Ng Tsz Yau (Hkg) bt Yap Roy King-Valeree Siow 17-21, 21-19, 23-21; Jiang Zhenbang-Wei Yaxin (Chn) bt Hoo Pang Ron-Cheng Su Yin 21-17, 21-18.

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