Zii Jia unperturbed by early exit

WORLD No 5 Lee Zii Jia is not making a big deal out of his shocking second-round exit from the Malaysia Open on Thursday.

However, it remains to be seen if the reigning Asian champion will compete in any tournament from now until the World Championships in Tokyo on Aug 22-28.

On Wednesday, the 24-year-old independent shuttler suffered his first early-round defeat this season, losing 21-19, 19-21, 21-16 to Indonesia's Shesar Hiren Rhustavito at the Axiata Arena in Bukit Jalil.

Earlier, Zii Jia had invited criticism when he announced his decision to skip the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham later this month. He will also not play in the Super 500 Singapore Open (July 12-17) to focus on preparation for the world meet.

Critics from both the fraternity and the online community argued that Zii Jia did not show much patriotism by making the call.

It is learnt that the Kedah-born may even skip next week's Super 500 Malaysia Masters, which means he will not play in any competitive event for at least seven weeks before the World Championships.

Zii Jia's coach Indra Wijaya, when contacted, remained non-committal, saying: "I really cannot confirm anything right now. We will have to look at Zii Jia's condition first."

And on his overall assessment of Zii Jia's performance at the Malaysia Open, Indra added: "Honestly, in every tournament we compete in, we must be ready to lose, as much as we want to win.

"There is a lot to learn from Zii Jia's defeat here at the Malaysia Open, but let's keep the analysis and evaluation internal.

"Zii Jia must learn to adapt to the situation, condition and expectations of fans and himself.

"He must always be ready to accept defeat, just like he is ready to win in tournaments."

After turning professional in January, Zii Jia inspired the Malaysian men's team to a historic Asia Team Championship (BATC) in February before clinching two titles on the trot in May — the Asian Championships and the Super 500 Thailand Open.

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