Lee Zii Jia stormed into the Indonesia Open men’s singles semi-finals after another resilient performance to beat Causeway rival Loh Kean Yew 21-18, 16-21, 22-20 in a pulsating battle that lasted 65 minutes on Friday.
Lee came into this match with a marginal head-to-head advantage over the Singaporean, having beaten him at the Asia Team Championships in February.
Fans at the Istora Senayan Stadium were treated to a sizzling first game, which saw both shuttlers trade points until 18-18.
Lee’s decision to force the issue paid off eventually as he won 21-18, including a brilliant save to reach match point.
But the world champion recovered admirably in the second, pulling away after the interval for the 21-16 win as Lee committed plenty of unforced errors towards the end.
The third game was another feisty affair, as Loh held the lead at the interval and crucially led 18-16, with the crowd chanting his name.
Lee refused to buckle and fought back until deuce, before seizing victory with a beautifully disguised cross court drop shot that sent Loh sprawling but to no avail.
The Malaysian will now face either Viktor Axelsen or Anthony Ginting, who beat him at last week’s Indonesia Masters.
Men’s doubles pair Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik also made it to the last four after they edged Pramudya Kusumawardana-Yeremia Erich 14-21, 21-12, 22-20.
The victory did not look forthcoming for the Malaysians who trailed 18-20 in the decider, but they got a lifeline after Erich hurt himself to get the match point in that rally.
Credit must be given to the Indonesian who tried to soldier on despite not being able to move after he was given treatment.
With Erich practically a passenger at the front court, Chia-Soh exploited the space by solely targeting Kusumawardana who was exposed at the back.
They duly sealed the win, with Erich leaving the court on a wheelchair afterwards.
Lee and Chia-Soh are the only two national representatives contesting the semi-finals after the exits of two mixed doubles pairs.
Chen Tang Jie-Valeree Siow lost 12-21, 14-21 to Chinese pair Wang Yi Lyu-Huang Dong Ping, while Hoo Pang Ron-Toh Ee Wei fell 16-21, 17-21 to Seo Seung-jae-Chae Yu-jung.