Lee Zii Jia kicked off his 2022 Malaysian Open campaign with a confident 21-15, 21-11 victory over Ireland’s Nhat Nguyen.

Both games were identical, with Nguyen matching Lee until 10-10, but faded off as the Malaysian ace came to life in the second half of the contest for the 47-minute victory.

Different from his Malaysia Open debut in 2019, when he was a relative newbie back then, and did not register on the minds of fans after a first-round loss to Suppanyu Avihingsanon, the fifth seed was aware of expectations of him of winning the Super 750 tournament this time.

“I’m more calm and mature to handle any kind of pressure than before. Especially this kind of pressure with the home fans. Today’s win was good, but I am still not 100%. I expect to be better tomorrow,” said Lee, who plays Indonesia’s Shesar Rhustavito next.

Lee is the only Malaysian men’s singles left after Ng Tze Yong narrowly lost to China’s Lu Guang Zu 16-21, 23-21, 18-21.

Ng looked good in the deciding match but seemed to have an issue with his ankle, and it wasn’t clear if that was the reason for his defeat.

“It was disappointing for sure. I really wanted to win this in front of the home fans. I should have increased the tempo when I needed to,” he said.

Besides Lee, Pearly Tan-M.Thinaah were the other big Malaysian winners after the pair overcame China’s Liu Xuan Xuan-Xia Yi Ting 22-20, 21-14 with a powerful performance.

“It was a good win, but there’s still areas that we need to go back, analyze and return stronger, especially with court conditions.

“All the top 10 pairs have immense strength, agility and endurance, and so we realized that’s an area we must work on to improve to match them,” said the pair, who play another Chinese pair in Zhang Shu Xian-Zheng Yu next.

Anna Cheong-Teoh Mei Xing also easily won, but face second seeds Lee So-hee-Shin Seung-chan in the second round.

Men’s doubles pair Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik also progressed with a 21-18, 21-19 victory over Akira Koga-Taichi Saito, and will meet Singaporeans Terry Hee-Loh Kean Hean next.

In the mixed doubles, Chen Tang Jie-Valeree Siow overcame Yuki Kaneko-Misaki Matsutomo 21-16, 14-21, 21-10 in 54 minutes, and are up against second seeds Zheng Si Wei-Huang Ya Qiong.

Meanwhile, Hoo Pang Ron-Toh Ee Wei lost to Zheng-Huang and crashed out, and it was the same story for Soong Joo Ven-Goh Liu Ying who also lost in straight games.

Vivian Hoo-Lim Chiew Sien also crashed out in the women’s doubles.