A fired-up Lee Zii Jia put on a dominant performance to brush aside world champion Loh Kean Yew 21-6, 21-14 and lead the Malaysian men’s team to victory against Singapore at the ongoing Asia Team Championships.
Lee’s impressive victory was wrapped up in 30 minutes, with the Malaysian clinical in every aspect of his game from defence to attack, with little room for error to showcase the gulf in quality in this match.
The world number seven, who was announced to have his own namesake badminton club on Tuesday, said he was relieved to beat Loh.
“I thought about many things before today’s match due to the many things that had happened before this. I am glad to have handled the pressure well and won the first point for Malaysia.
“I know many fans have been waiting for this match. I told myself not to let my emotions get in the way, and to be as calm as possible,” he said.
Mata pertama buat skuad lelaki negara dalam aksi pertama saingan kumpulan B berdepan Singapura. Lee Zii Jia menewaskan Loh Kean Yew 21-4, 21-14. Kali terakhir Zii Jia menang ke atas Juara Dunia musim lalu itu pada 2019 lalu @ASTROARENA pic.twitter.com/mOsCHpcehh— Syakirah Zulkifly (@SykrhZlkfly) February 16, 2022
Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik was next up, and they too were a class above Danny Bawa Chrisnanta-Wesley Koh to win 21-14, 21-12 in 25-minutes for the 2-0 lead.
The Tokyo Olympics bronze medalists went into full offensive mode and only several unforced errors prevented a bigger margin victory.
Second singles Ng Tze Yong confirmed Malaysia’s outright win with a battling 17-21, 24-22, 21-19 victory over Jason Teh.
Ng, who had steadily risen on the world rankings was expected to win in straight games, but his opponent made life difficult throughout the 78-minute contest.
Goh Szei Fei-Nur Izzuddin made it 4-0 with a 21-10, 21-13 victory over Terry Hee-Andy Kwek, before Leong Jun Hao completed the thrashing with a 21-17, 22-20 win over Joel Koh.
The men’s team next play Kazakhstan on Thursday.
The women’s team, meanwhile, finished as group champions after they overcame India 3-2.
S.Kisona finally broke her seven-month winless run with a hard fought 21-16, 18-21, 21-16 win over Aakarshi Kashyap after 72 minutes of battle in the first women's singles.
The scratch combination of Pearly Tan-Valeree Siow looked like a seasoned pairing after they pummeled Khushi Gupta-Mehreen Riza 21-1, 21-6 to wrap the match in 21 minutes.
Siti Nurshuhaini, who delivered Malaysia’s first point against Japan, could not match Ashmita Chaliha, losing 11-21, 19-21.
Anna Ching-Teoh Mei Xing, however, ensured victory with a 21-10, 21-12 win over Arul Bala Radhakrishnan-Nila Valluvan.
Tara Shah then managed a consolation point for India after she beat Mysiha Khairul 21-16, 21-15.