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In-form Zii Jia is now man to beat at Thailand Open

KUALA LUMPUR: Lee Zii Jia has a chance to win back-to-back titles for the first time in his career following the withdrawals of world No 1 Viktor Axelsen and India's K. Srikanth from their Thailand Open second-round matches today.

Zii Jia had won the Asian Championships a month ago.

With Axelsen and Srikanth out, the door is now wide open for the sixth-seeded Zii Jia. He is now the highest-seeded player left in the men's singles competition.

The 2021 All England champion made it to the quarter-finals with relative ease by dispatching Germany's Kai Schaefer 21-7, 21-11.

The win brings his unbeaten streak to 10 matches — the longest he has enjoyed in his career thus far.

Zii Jia's previous longest winning spell was nine matches recorded in 2018.

Then, he made it to back-to-back finals, winning the Taiwan Open but settling for runner-up at the Korea Masters.

Zii Jia will face Indonesia's Shesar Hiren Rhustavito for a place in the semi-finals tomorrow.

Malaysian fans will be hoping for Liew Daren to make it an all-Malaysian affair and ensure our country a representative in the final on Sunday.

Daren continued his superb run by seeing off Japanese youngster Koki Watanabe 16-21 22-20 21-11 in 60 minutes.

He will take on China's world no 36 Zhao Jun Peng tomorrow.

Malaysia will also have two representatives in the men's doubles quarter-finals in Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik and Goh Sze Fei-Nur Izzuddin Rumsani.

Aaron-Wooi Yik overcame Lee Jhe Huei-Yang Po Hsuan of Taiwan 21-18, 21-16 to set up a mouth-watering clash against reigning Olympic champions Lee Yang-Wang Chi Lin next.

Sze Fei-Izzuddin, meanwhile, will have a chance to prove that their Thomas Cup win against Japan's Takuro Hoki-Yugo Kobayashi was no fluke when they face off again for the second straight week.

Sze Fei-Izzuddin were convincing in their 21-16, 21-11 win over Popov brothers, Christo and Toma Junior of France today.

There was also more good news as Pearly Tan-M. Thinaah (women's doubles) and Goh Soon Huat-Shevon Lai (mixed doubles) won their respective matches.

Pearly-Thinaah underlined their newly attained world No 10 status by triumphing comfortably 21-17, 21-11 over former world junior champions Xia Yu Ting-Liu Xuan Xuan of China.

They will take on former world champions Sayaka Hirota-Yuki Fukushima in the last night tomorrow.

Soon Huat-Shevon defeated India's Ishaan Bhatnagar-Tanisha Crasto 21-19, 22-20.

SECOND ROUND RESULTS

Malaysians only

Men's singles: Lee Zii Jia bt Kai Schaefer (Ger) 21-7, 21-11; Liew Daren bt Koki Watanabe (Jpn) 16-21, 22-20, 21-11.

Doubles: Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik bt Lee Jhe Huei-Yang Po Hsuan 21-18, 21-16; Goh Sze Fei-Nur Izzuddin Rumsani bt Christo Popov-Toma Junior Popov (Fra) 21-16, 21-11.

Women's doubles: Pearly Tan-M. Thinaah bt Liu Xuan Xuan-Xia Yu Ting 21-17, 21-11; Yuki Fukushima-Sayaka Hirota (Jpn) bt Vivian Hoo-Lim Chiew Sien 16-21, 21-16, 21-16; Baek Ha Na-Lee Yu Lim (Kor) bt Anna Cheong-Teoh Mei Xing 19-21, 21-11, 21-11.

Mixed doubles: Goh Soon Huat-Shevon Lai Jemie bt Ishaan Bhatnagar-Tanisha Crasto (Ind) 21-19, 22-20.

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