Calmer Zii Jia is stepping in right direction after Down Under success

PETALING JAYA: Lee Zii Jia (pic) will be heading to the Paris Olympic Games with a calm mind and a pep in his step.

The world No. 8 shuttler claimed his second title of the year at the Australian Open after defeating world No. 6 Kodai Naraoka of Japan 21-19, 11-21, 21-18 in the final yesterday at the Quaycentre in Sydney Olympic Park.

The decider was intense as Zii Jia had a comfortable 17-11 lead before Naraoka launched an attack that saw the score tied at 18-18. Zii Jia said the winning recipe for him was staying calm in stressful situations, which also gave him the edge against Naraoka in the final.

“My mentality has changed a lot. I’m calmer now and it’s a positive for me to take away before the Olympics,” said Zii Jia.

It was Zii Jia’s third final appearance in four recent tournaments after winning the Thailand Open and finishing runners-up at the Malaysian Masters last month.

“Things have been going good for me, there’s so much to be happy about in the last few weeks,” he said.

Zii Jia said he has learned not to lose his composure during crucial moments.

“I don’t think too much about the points but instead I think of how hard am I going to play for each point,” said Zii Jia.

“It was more about how I was going to solve problems that Naraoka was throwing my way, trying to make it hard for me.

“It was quite intense when he gave a chase but I was enjoying the game and didn’t feel nervous. That’s the feeling I want,” he said.

This was Zii Jia’s third win out of six meetings against Naraoka, and the result in Sydney should see him move up the world rankings before Paris, ensuring that he is seeded at the Games in July.

Zii Jia added that the match with Naraoka was among the toughest matches he has played so far.

“It was a very exciting game, probably one of the toughest and best-played matches in my career. Both of us gave it all on the court.

“Now it’s time to rest, recharge, and refocus for the Paris Olympics,” he added.

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Badminton , Australian Open , Lee Zii Jia


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