Malaysia’s badminton team may not have made it into the finals for the Sudirman Cup, but they certainly did their best. Lee Zii Jia (李梓嘉) in particular was very happy with his performance.
Although he was sorely disappointed when he lost in the Tokyo Olympics 2020, he managed a comeback this round. Lee pulled off a victory against Kento Monoma of Japan on Saturday (2nd October) and won the Malaysia’s only point against Japan in the semi-finals.
This was the first time in 12 years that the Malaysian team had made it into the semi-finals for the cup. Unfortunately, they ceded victory to Japan by 1-3. Men doubles Aaron Chia and Soh Wooi Yik lost to Takuro Hoki and Yugo Kobayashi, giving Japan their first point. Malaysia’s woman singles player, Kisona Selvaduray lost to Akane Yamaguchi, tipping the score further in Japan’s favour. However, Lee managed to take a point back when he won against world No. 1 Monoma with a 22-20, 21-19 victory. Sadly, the victory was short lived. Women doubles Pearly Tan and Thinaah Muralitharan lost to Mayu and Misaki Matsumoto ending the score with 1-3.
The team may not have made it into finals, but they certainly did Malaysia proud. This was the first time they won against Indonesia in the Sudirman Cup. Lee specifically showed his best during the cup which boosted his confidence after his last loss. Not only did he win against Momota, he also managed a victory against Indonesia’s world No. 5 Anthony Ginting in the quarter-finals. Lee celebrated his hard-earned victory at the end of the match when he took off his shirt and threw it to the audience.
“I have shown the fans once again that I’m one of the best players and I can beat anyone,” Lee said confidently to Badminton Europe. The world No. 8 shared how he managed to break Momota’s defence, detailing his observations of the other player. “You need to put a lot of stamina into matches with him,” he said. “I had no choice, I had to gamble (on a few shots).” Lee also stated that Momota was a strong defensive player, requiring his opponents to give their all for a chance at victory. “You have to play different kinds of shot and smashes, and combine them into one to break him,” he said.
Malaysia’s shot at the Sudirman Cup may be over, but the team is already preparing for their next battle during the Thomas Cup in October. Many are looking forward to seeing Lee and Momota go head to head again in its finals. Momota however, has said he will be ready for that match. “I could not build on the pace as a result of the long match the day before,” he shared. “That’s why I lost.” His last match had been against Taiwan’s Chou Tien-chen in three games on Friday (1st October).
We look forward to seeing the team make a comeback in the Thomas Cup! As for Lee Zii Jia, we’re certain he will do whatever he can to keep up his best. We will continue to put our confidence in the world’s No. 8 player!