Lee Zii Jia crumbled against a hungry Chou Tien Chen of Chinese Taipei in the men’s singles semi-finals of the Toyota Thailand Open at the Huamark Indoor Stadium in Bangkok on Saturday.
The 17th ranked Malaysian just could not move into another gear when it mattered against the third-ranked Tien Chen in his 14-21, 20-22 defeat in 46 minutes.
Still, it was an encouraging performance from the Kedah-born Zii Jia who next heads to Basel, Switzerland for the World Championships later this month.
The semi-finals in the Thailand Open is a confidence boost for Zii Jia, who before this could only manage six quarter-final appearances.
With the defeat in Bangkok, Tien Chen now leads 3-2 in the head to head tally in five meetings.
Meanwhile, former World No 1 Ratchanok Intanon, kept Thailand’s hopes of winning the women’s singles title alive in the USD350,000 world tour event, by reaching the final after a hard-fought 23-21, 17-21, 21-19 win over compatriot Pornpawee Chochuwong in a marathon 81 minutes.
Ratchanok will face China’s top seed Chen Yufei for the title on Sunday. Yufei was too strong for Japan’s Sayaka Takahashi in her 21-16, 21-19 win in 43 minutes. – BY RIZAL ABDULLAH