Selangor Journal
National shuttler Lee Zii Jia in action against Denmark’s Anders Antonsen in the Malaysia Masters at Axiata Arena, Kuala Lumpur, on May 24, 2024. — Picture via X/BA_MALAYSIA

Zii Jia stuns Antonsen to enter Malaysia Masters semi-finals

KUALA LUMPUR, May 24 — Former All England champion Lee Zii Jia advanced to the 2024 Malaysia Masters semi-finals in a three-year first after eliminating Anders Antonsen of Denmark today.

Fresh from winning the Thailand Open last week, world number 10 Zii Jia, powered by strong home support, notched a 21-15, 19-21, 21-11 win after 84 minutes against the Malaysia Open 2024 champion at Axiata Arena here.

It was only Zii Jia’s third win against world number four Antonsen in their eight encounters, the first victory being in the 2020 Malaysia Masters.

Zii Jia, who is gunning for his first title on home soil, will face Hong Kong’s Angus Ng Ka Long, who stunned third-seed Li Shi Feng of China 21-13, 21-15.

The 26-year-old shuttler’s best achievement in the Malaysia Masters was the 2020 semi-finals, when he went down to eventual champion Kento Momota, while he advanced to the quarter-finals in 2019.

His campaign ended early in other editions as he was eliminated in the first round in 2017 and second round in 2018 and 2023. He didn’t take part in 2022, and the tournament was called off in 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

But Zii Jia’s participation in the semi-finals is still in doubt as the shuttler suffered leg and body cramps at today’s match.

His manager Lee Zii Yii said Zii Jia went for an ice bath at the National Sports Institute immediately after the match and his condition would be assessed tomorrow morning.

“Just after the second set, he called the medical officer because (muscles) were tight and tired because he had just returned from Thailand, while yesterday he fought a fierce match (against Kiran George of India).

“Now he is having cramps… while standing, sitting, even walking, so we contacted the NSC (National Sports Council) about whether he could do an ice bath, and sent him for one.

“We are trying our best to let him recover as much as possible, so we will see how his condition is because he just finished this match. I can’t say anything yet. Once he wakes up, we will assess him,” she told reporters.

Meanwhile, Antonsen was not satisfied with the results, as he felt he was in better physical condition than Zii Jia.

“Even though I wasn’t that close in the third game, I feel like this match could have gone either way, so it wasn’t that much that separated us today. It was momentum; when I had it, I had some good runs, and when he had it, he had some very good runs.

“Today was a very physical match, no doubt about it. And yeah, you never know, but I had the feeling that I was maybe in better physical condition than Lee was. I need to know what that cool spray did to him at the beginning of the third game; I would like to get my hands on one of those,” he said.

In the last match of tonight, world number one Viktor Axelsen beat Taiwan’s Chou Tien Chen 21-15, 21-11 in 46 minutes, with Axelsen hoping to win his second title after his 2018 success.

The reigning Olympic champion, who has yet to bag a 2024 title, will be challenged by China’s Lu Guang Zu next, who beat Hong Kong’s Jason Gunawan 21-17, 15-21, 21-14.

— Bernama

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