Lee Zii Jia will not put immense pressure on himself at the upcoming Malaysia Open (January 10-15), but will be motivated to start year 2023 on a strong note after a disappointing end to the recently concluded season.
Lee is set to take on Japan’s rising star and highest ranked shuttler Kodai Naraoka in the opening round of the newly elevated Super 1000 event.
The pressure to win will be there from the first serve, but Lee does not want to add on to the expectations of him to show up on home soil.
“Every player wants to win the championship in front of their own fans. That is one of the goals. But at the same time, I also want to relax and enjoy myself on court.
“I’m personally still not satisfied with my performance, especially with the fluctuations in my performance. I need to keep improving. I want to prove that I am worthy of world number two, and not because of the number of tournaments I’m playing,” he said.
Lee was speaking to the media in Taipei, where he was training ahead of the season opener and also took part in an exhibition match with Wang Tzu Wei and trained with world number five Chou Tien-chen.
Lee finished this year with two early exits at the French Open and Australian Open, but prior to that, he did well to reach the Denmark Open final where he was beaten by China’s Shi Yu Qi.
Besides Lee, Ng Tze Yong is the other Malaysian to feature in the men’s singles star-studded field for the Malaysia Open.
Ng is up against Ireland’s Nhat Nguyen, and if he wins, he could play Lee in the second round.
Viktor Axelsen, Loh Kean Yew, Anthony Ginting and Kento Momota are some of the big names who will also be in action at the Axiata Arena.