Lee Zii Jia did enough to stay in the hunt in the Perodua Malaysia Masters when the 21-year-old marched into the men’s singles quarter-finals with a hard fought 21-19, 22-20 win over India’s Sameer Verma in a second round match on Thursday.
Zii Jia, however, had to bring out his best, especially in the second game for his third win over the Indian in four outings. It was a good 52-minutes at the Axiata Arena in Bukit Jalil with the home crowd once again roaring him into the winning mode.
The crowd has been behind Zii Jia from day one in the USD400,000 Super 500 event. Presented by Daihatsu the Malaysia Masters is the season’s opener on the world tour.
In the quarter-finals on Friday the lone Malaysian in the men’s singles will face seventh seed Shi Yuqi of China who defeated his compatriot Lu Guang Zu 21-16, 21-12.
“It was tough and tiring against Verma. We know each other’s game too well and I forced him into errors when I turned on the heat,'” said Zii Jia, who is the reigning Sea Games champion.
With a place in the last eight confirmed Zii Jia was quick to point out that he is fired up to face Shi Yuqi to whom he lost badly in his only previous encounter.
“This time around it is different. Revenge is on my mind. It has not been the best of me in the Malaysia Masters but I am fired up to keep my challenge alive.”
Zii Jia knocked out Denmark’s third seed and fourth ranked Anders Antonsen in the first round – defeating his opponent 14-21, 21-15, 21-8 in a 66-minute thriller.
For the record the Dane won the silver medal in last year’s world championships in Basel, Switzerland and had beaten Zia Jia twice in their previous two meetings last year.
Meanwhile, top seed and hot favorite Kento Momota eased into the quarter-finals with a 21-14, 21-16 win over India’s H.S. Prannoy on a day when No 2 seed Chou Tien Chen of Chinese Taipei fell by the wayside – losing 21-23, 17-21 to Hong Kong’s Angus Ng Ka Long in 43 minutes. RIZAL ABDULLAH