Malaysia’s top shuttler Lee Zii Jia outplayed reigning Olympics champion Chen Long of China in straight games 21-12, 21-18 in 49 minutes to reach the men’s singles semi-finals in the All-England Championships in Birmingham on Friday.
With the win, the 21-year-old Malaysian is tied at 2-2 after four meetings and this is the first time the match was decided in straight games.
Zii Jia, the reigning Sea Games champion, will face second seed Viktor Axelsen for a place in the final after the Dane eased into the last four with a 21-15, 21-7 win over China’s seventh seed Shi Yuqi.
Patience and newfound confidence played a big role in Zii Jia’s win over the third-seeded Chen Long. “I have also cut out on unforced errors,” said Zii Jia on his win, adding that he hopes to ride on his momentum against Axelsen.
Zii Jia and Axelsen go into the match on equal footing, having beaten each other once in their previous two meetings last year. Axelsen beat the Malaysian 21-12, 22-20 in the quarter-finals in the Perodua Malaysia Masters in January while Zii Jia beat the Dane 21-18, 21-16 in the Korea Open in September.
Badminton Association of Malaysia coaching director Wong Choong Hann said: “Zii Jia played well with composure during the match against Chen Long. Though it seems easy the tension was always high throughout the match.
”It will be more interesting and challenging going forward but also full of possibilities.”
Meanwhile, Malaysia’s challenge in the men’s doubles came to an end when last year’s runners-up Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik failed to make the semi-finals after a 21-17, 21-19 defeat to world No 1 and top seeds Marcus Fernaldi Gideon-Kevin Sanjaya of Indonesia.
The Indonesians who won in 34 minutes, stretched the winning streak against the Malaysians to seven without defeat.