MALAYSIA MASTERS QF – Lee Zii Jia, Ng Ka Long spring singles surprises

Ng Ka Long and Lee Zii Jia took back-to-back upsets in the quarter-finals of the Malaysia Masters, sending off Jonatan Christie and Shi Yuqi respectively. By Don Hearn, Badzine correspondent […]

Ng Ka Long and Lee Zii Jia took back-to-back upsets in the quarter-finals of the , sending off Jonatan Christie and Shi Yuqi respectively.

By Don Hearn, Badzine correspondent live in Kuala Lumpur.  Photos: Mark Phelan / Badmintonphoto (live)

The biggest thrill for the home crowd on Friday at Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur was the first ever victory for local boy Lee Zii Jia (pictured) over former World Tour Finals winner Shi Yuqi.  The crowd absolutely roared when Lee forced a scrappy drive interception over the net and caught Shi by surprise.

In fact, the result itself was a surprise.  The seventh-seeded Shi may have been hobbled by a foot injury ever since the Indonesia Open last year but he still made the final of the Macau Open, which exceeds any of the results Lee managed in 2019.

Indeed, the first game went as expected, with Shi leading throughout and finishing with the convincing 21-12 scoreline.  The second game stayed much closer but it wasn’t until the end that Lee Zii Jia broke away with 5 straight points to win it 21-16.

In the third game, things really heated up.  Lee again grabbed a 16-12 lead in the bottom half but this time, Shi reeled him in.  The rallies themselves had a different urgency as well.  Lee Zii Jia again pulled a desperation backhand drive defensive winner out of his magician’s hat and the partisan crowd only roared louder.

The previous match was only a minor upset, as world #9 Ng Ka Long (pictured) of Hong Kong had to face #6 Jonatan Christie.  Still, it was Ng’s first win over Christie since 2018, when he completed a streak of four straight victories against the Asian Games gold medallist.  In so doing, Ng Ka Long booked a spot in his first semi-final since last summer.

“After the Thailand Open, I was struggling in the quarter-finals and I wasn’t able to go further so this is a great breakthrough for me at the start of 2020,” said Ng after his win.  “A good start is very important for the whole year and especially for the Olympic year.

“I was not very stable in the second half of 2019.  Sometimes I made it to the quarter-finals but sometimes I lost in the first rounds.  For me, the most important thing is to be more stable throughout my career.

“I was really nervous today when the score was 18-all but his ranking is higher than mine so for me, I shouldn’t have any pressure and just focus on my game and give my best.

On his close rivalry with Jonatan Christie (pictured), Ng said, “His strategy is to keep pushing and to keep adding his pace so when I play against him I just focus on my defense so I can save all his shots.

“I lost to him twice in 2019 and before today’s match I was not very confident so I just told myself to focus on the game and tried to push myself to be more confident on court

Asked about his longer-term goals, Ng said, “I haven’t thought too much about after the Olympics yet but I just want to raise my ranking.  My target is to get into the top 8.”

Lee Zii Jia will not be the only Malaysian in the semi-finals.  He will be joined there by the mixed doubles pair of Chan Peng Soon and Goh Liu Ying.  They beat Takuro Hoki / Wakana Nagahara in straight games and will take on world #2 Wang/Huang, who struggled with Tabeling/Piek of the Netherlands before finally winning in 3.

Click here for complete quarter-final results

Don Hearn

About Don Hearn

Don Hearn is an Editor and Correspondent who hails from a badminton-loving town in rural Canada. He joined the Badzine team in 2006 to provide coverage of the Korean badminton scene and is committed to helping Badzine to promote badminton to the place it deserves as a global sport. Contact him at: don @