KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 18 — Former national shuttler Datuk James Selvaraj feels that the country’s top men’s singles ace Lee Zii Jia should reach either the semi-final or final of any tournament that he competes in.
James said that based on Zii Jia’s lofty world ranking of number two, that is the bare minimum expected of him and that any early-round exit is simply unacceptable.
That is why James views Zii Jia’s failure to make the cut for the Badminton World Federation (BWF) World Tour Finals in Bangkok, Thailand from December 7 to December 11 as a missed opportunity.
“Zii Jia should be playing in the BWF World Tour Finals. Sadly, he could not achieve his goal to be in Bangkok.
“He cannot afford to lose in the first or second round, he must try to reach at least the semi-finals,” he told Bernama when contacted today.
Zii Jia went down 22 – 20, 15 – 21, 16 – 21 to China’s Lu Guang Zu in a 70-minute battle in the second round of the 2022 Australian Open at the Quay Centre in Sydney yesterday (November 17).
The result meant the 24-year-old Zii Jia remained in the ninth position in the BWF World Tour Finals ranking with 54,930 points, with Guang Zu finishing eighth with 56,310 points.
Only the top-eight players and pairs will qualify for the World Tour Finals.
Zii Jia played in 12 tournaments this year but only managed to clinch two back-to-back titles — the Badminton Asia Championships in Manila and Thailand Open in May — plus a runner-up finish in the Denmark Open last month.
He had also made three semi-finals and one quarter-final, in addition to suffering five early exits including a stunning 19 – 21, 21 – 11, 19 – 21 third-round loss to China’s Zhao Jun Peng in the BWF World Championships in Tokyo, Japan, in August.
Zii Jia, who is no stranger to controversy, stunned Malaysian sports fans by quitting the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) to turn professional earlier this year before skipping the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games in July to focus on the world meet in Japan.
Now that the season is over for Kedahan, the 71-year-old James, who is also a former coach, advised Zii Jia to go back to the drawing board and figure out how to overcome the inconsistency in his game.
“He must take this break to sit down with his team to find out what the exact problem is and analyse his performance.
“Zii Jia is a good player, it is important for him to remain consistent and maintain his high standard,” he said.
James also warned Zii Jia that he stands to lose the sponsors if he keeps exiting in the early rounds.