After comfortably checking into the Australian Open second round, Lee Zii Jia faces a do-or-die showdown against Lu Guangzu whom he must beat in order to secure a berth at the World Tour Finals (WTF).
Top seeded Lee had no issues overcoming Australian qualifier Rio Agustino 21-9, 21-11 in his opening round match in Sydney on Wednesday.
He now goes on to face China’s Lu, who was equally lethal in eliminating Indonesian veteran Tommy Sugiarto 21-18, 21-17.
This year’s Asian and Thailand Open champion must reach the semi-finals of this Super 300 event at the very least, if he intends to qualify for the season finale which has been moved to Bangkok.
Lu presents the biggest challenge in his quest to get there, even though head-to-head favours the Malaysian who won both their encounters in 2019 and 2020.
Of all the Malaysian shuttlers at the Australian Open, Lee is the only shuttler who can qualify to the WTF from outside the automatic berths.
Having said that, it was a good day for the contingent whom most came unscathed to book a second round berth.
Soong Joo Ven won in straight games against his Australian opponent and next faces an Indonesian qualifier.
If he succeeds on Thursday and Lee beats Lu, both Malaysians will meet in the last eight.
Ng Tze Yong also beat a local in straight games and faces South Korea’s Heo Kwang Hee on Thursday.
It was the same for men’s doubles Ong Yew Sin-Teo Ee Yi, who play another Australian pair after beating the home pair in the first round.
Goh Jin Wei is the only Malaysian women's singles shuttler left standing after she overcame India’s Tanya Hemanth 21-15, 21-16.
She takes on another Indian in Anwesha Gowda in the second round, as S.Kisona and Soniia Cheah both exited the tournament on Wednesday.
Kisona lost in straight games against Thailand’s third seed Pornpawee Chochuwong 13-21, 10-21, while Cheah fared no better against Indonesia’s Putri Kusuma to lose 19-21, 15-21.
Cheam June Wei was also another first round casualty after losing to Japan’s Kenta Nishimoto in straight games.