KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama): Ace Lee Zii Jia, leader of national singles, is one game away from winning the inaugural All England title after beating Mark Caljouw of the Netherlands on 21-13,21-17 in Birmingham on Saturday (March 21).
Zii Jia, ranked sixth, stood majestically while sweeping the Dutchman in straight games at the Use Arena.
Caljouw did not match Zii Jia in the first game, but the Dutchman was a transformed player in the second as he finished with a point (10-11) in the interval.
Caljouw rushed into Zii Jia’s hesitation to advance between 16 and 15, but it was the call that 22-year-old Alor Setar needed to regain his composure, fight and face home. 21-17.
With this win, Zii Jia has improved his All England record. Last year, the Malaysian fell short when he lost 21-17,13-21,19-21 to eventual Denmark winner Viktor Axelsen in the last four.
Zii Jia will now face the winner of the all-Danish clash between second seed Axelsen and third seed Anders Antonsen in the other semi-final, which will be played on Saturday night (Sunday morning, Malaysia time) .
This will be Zii Jia’s best chance to win silver after suffering a disastrous start so far this year.
He started the year losing to Taiwan’s second seed Chou Tien Chen in the quarterfinals of the Yonex Thai Open before falling in the first round to India’s Sameer Verman at the Thai Open of Toyota in January.
Zii Jia’s poor condition continued when he lost all three matches in the finals of the World Badminton Federation (BWF) world tour, also held in Bangkok the same month, before the eighth Kunlavut Vitidsarn group in Thailand showed the start 18-21.10 -21 in the semifinals of the Swiss Open in 2021 earlier this month.
Earlier, seedless Japanese pair Yuki Kaneko-Misaki Matsutomo surprised Malaysian Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying on 21-14,22-20 to qualify for the mixed doubles final on Saturday.
The last time Malaysia tested a victory in All England was in 2017, when Datuk Lee Chong Wei beat China’s Shi Yu Qi on 21-12.21-10 in the men’s singles final. – Bernama