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In Focus: The Phoenix Lee Zii Jia from Malaysia
Badminton is a game of grit, dedication, and finesse, even in the face of adversity. And one player who truly embodies the essence of badminton is Malaysian shuttler, Lee Zii Jia. Even though he has had a challenging year, he believes in the champions-never-quit approach. Let's understand how this child prodigy is rediscovering his game and becoming a formidable player.
1. Men's Singles World Rank: 11
2. Men's Singles World Tour Rank: 13
3. Career Best Ranking: 2 (on 25th October 2022)
4. 2022 Men's Singles Asian Champion
5. 2019 Men's Singles SEA Games Champion
6. Part of the Team that won the Bronze Medal at the 2023 Sudirman Cup
1. Birth Date: 29th March 1998 (Age 25 as of 19th October 2023)
2. Country: Malaysia
3. Height: 1.86m (6 ft. 1 inches)
4. Handedness: Right
5. Independent Coach: Wong Tat Meng Liew
6. Assistant Coach: Darren Liew
7. Favorite Racquet: Victor Thruster Ryuga
8. Favorite Shoes: Victor A970 Ace
A Quick Glance at the Wins of the Malaysian Star Shuttler
Lee Zii Jia held the World No. 2 rankings in 2022. However, after his career-best performance, his form suffered in 2023. It led to his rank slipping away. However, he is dedicated to his craft and working on his skills.
1. Victor Denmark Open 2023 (Odense Denmark):
In the recently concluded Denmark Open on 22nd October 2023, Lee secured the silver and won the second position.
2. Clash of Clans Artic Open 2023 - Powered by Yonex ( Vantaa, Finland):
On 15th October 2023, Lee won the first position against NG Tze Yong in two straight sets.
3. 19th Edition Asian Games (Hangzhou, China):
Lee Zii Jia lost in the quarter-final against Indian shuttler HS Prannoy in a well-fought match. The match lasted for 78 minutes.
4. Sathio Group Australian Open 2023 (Sydney, Australia):
Lee Zii Jia was on a roll in the Australian Open but lost the semi-final to Chinese badminton player Weng Hong Yan. He secured the third position in the tournament.
5. Yonex Swiss Open 2023 (Basel, Switzerland):
Lee won three matches in the tournament and reached the semi-final. He was third on the podium after losing the semi-final to Japanese player Koki Watanabe.
6. Yonex All England Open Badminton Championships 2023 (Birmingham, England):
He secured the third position in the HSBC BWF World Tour Super 1000 event after losing the semi-final to Chinese Y.Q. Shi.
A Worthy Successor to Malaysian Legend Lee Chong Wei
Badminton fans consider Lee Zii Jia as the next Lee Chong Wei. He has all the potential, talent, and skill to become the next badminton champion. He has a mantra, "Dare to Dream". He says, "What I am trying to show them (the youth) is, I hope that they can dare to dream (of) whatever they want to become, and then decide to become (it) one day."
Born in Alor Setar, Lee Zii Jia’s parents were former international basketball players. His parents introduced him to badminton at the young age of six. Considering his potential and performance in under-12 competitions, the Bukit Jalil Sports School quickly selected him.
Lee Zii Jia began his career with the Junior Championship in the 2015 Perak and Selangor Badminton Open tournament. His achievement secured him a seat at the big table. In the following year, he won a bronze medal at the World Junior Championships. In 2017, Lee won his first senior title at the Polish International Tournament.
2018 was a memorable year for the Malaysian player because he won his first BWF World Tour title against Riichi Takeshita. His victory brought happiness across Malaysia because Lee became the only player other than Lee Chong Wei to win a BWF title since 2013. Lee Zii Jia also reached the finals of the Korean Masters in the same year.
In August 2019, Lee reached the semi-finals of the Thailand Open. He secured the world No. 11 in the BWF World rankings and ended the year on a high with a gold medal in the men’s singles tournament at the SEA Games. He also helped the national men's team win the silver medal at the SEA Games.
Lee Zii Jia was a semi-finalist in the 2020 Malaysian Masters. Under his captaincy, the team won a silver medal at the Asian Team Championships. Owing to his incredible performance at the All England Open in 2020, he entered the coveted list of the top 10 badminton players.
Lee won his first-ever Super 1000 tournament at the 2021 All England Open Championship by defeating world no. 1 player and defending champion Viktor Axelsen.
When Lee decided to quit the national badminton team in January 2022, the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) banned him for two years. However, the ban was lifted quickly in the same month. In May 2022, Lee won the Badminton Asia Championships and BWF World Tour Super 500 title at the Thailand Open. He also reached the final of the Denmark Open against Chinese shuttler Shi Yuqi.
In 2023, Lee was part of the Malaysian team that won the bronze medal at the Sudirman Cup. He had decided to take a break from badminton in 2023 and only returned to competing in July with the 2023 Korea Open. He ended his drought by winning the 2023 Arctic Open against another Malaysian player Ng Tze Yong.
A Change in Playing Style: Lee Zii Jia's Latest Strategy
Currently, Lee Zii Jia is in a transformation phase where he is changing his strategy from being an aggressive to a control player. Smashing used to be his biggest strength, but he needed a transition because other players were figuring out his game effortlessly.
His athleticism is top-notch, and his aggression is second to none. Each of his badminton fans hopes his transition is successful and he soon becomes the international player he deserves to be.
Lee's Favorite Badminton Racket and Other Equipment
Lee has always favored an attacking racket and still prefers the Victor Thruster Ryuga (flame red) badminton racket. He was also associated with Thruster Ryuga II in the past.
Recently, fans noticed that he used a different racket at the BWF Arctic Open 2023 in Vantaa, Finland. Many think it is a new racket in accordance with his changing playing style. However, it might be a yet-to-be-released version of Ryuga itself.
Currently, Victor has exclusively signed him. He uses the Victor A970 Ace badminton shoes, the BR5610LJZ racket bag, and the BR5010LZJ backpack.
The Phoenix Will Rise
Lee Zii Jia had a devastating year, but ever since his return from the hiatus, he seems to be enjoying the game and winning titles. His recent achievements are a testament to his never-say-die spirit and his motto of "Dare to Dream."
Lee's journey to reaching the world no. 2 rankings, the subsequent losses, and the comeback make him a true phoenix. Truly, his story is of grit, dedication, and commitment against all odds.