No happy return for Zii Jia

KUALA LUMPUR: A one-month break and a new coach. Sadly nothing has changed for the troubled Lee Zii Jia.

His dismal run of early exits in tournaments continued with a first round loss to Hong Kong's Angus Ng in the Korean Open in Yeosu today.

The 2021 All England champion lost 21-15, 18-21, 21-17 to fifth seed Angus.

Last month, the 25-year-old Kedahan announced he was taking an indefinite break from badminton following a series of losses.

He failed to get past the last-16 stage in his last three World Tour events, including first-round setbacks at the Singapore Open and Indonesia Open.

There were hopes that Zii Jia, whose world ranking went as high as No 2 before deteriorating to No 17, will recover from his slump under Wong Tat Meng who became his coach two weeks ago. But everyone knows that Tat Meng can't produce instant results within such a short period.

So, it was all in the mind, whether world No 17 Zii Jia could do something against world No 14 Angus.

But Angus has the psychological advantage of having beaten the Malaysian No 1 twice in their last three meetings, and he again proved to be the better one today.

Zii Jia will find himself under further pressure to break the early exit jinx at the Japan Open next week.

Interestingly, can Ng Tze Yong do what his compatriot, Zii Jia failed to do, which is to beat Angus?

World No 23 Tze Yong set up a second round clash with the Hong Konger after beating India's Mithun Manjunath 21-11, 21-4.

Singapore's former world champion Loh Kean Yew proved to be in a different league as he outclassed national champion Leong Jun Hao 21-10, 21-14.

Cheam June Wei lost 21-13, 21-11 to Taiwanese second seed Chou Tien Chen.

In the women's singles, national No 1 K. Letshanaa reached the second round after beating Taiwan's Huang Ching Ping 21-12, 15-21, 21-18.

Letshanaa, who captured the national crown earlier this month, will face Taiwanese fourth seed Tai Tzu Ying next.

Independent shuttler S. Kisona edged American Lauren Lam 21-19, 21-19 in the first round, and will next face Japanese top seed Akane Yamaguchi.

Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik, who won the National Sportsman award on Monday, beat South Korea's Ki Dong Ju-Kim Jae Hwan 21-18, 22-20 in the men's doubles first round. They will next meet Japan's Keiichiro Matsui-Yoshinori Takeuchi who had beaten Malaysia's Boon Xin Yuan-Wong Tien Ci 21-13,21-10.

Goh Sze Fei-Nur Izzudin Rumsani, after winning the US Open title, arrived in Yeosu 24 hours later, and in time to beat China's Ren Xiang Yu-Tan Qiang 10-21, 21-16, 21-16.

In the mixed doubles, independent pair Goh Soon Huat-Shevon Lai ousted compatriots Chen Tang Jie-Toh Ee Wei 21-16, 21-16 in the opening round, and will next play Japanese Hiroki Midorikawa-Natsu Saito.

Independents Tan Kian Meng-Lai Pei Jing beat Japan's Yuri Kaneko-Matsutomo 21-15, 27-25, and will meet Thailand's second seeds Dechapol Puavaranukroh-Sapsiree Taerattanachai, who beat Malaysians Hoo Pan Rong-Teoh Mei Xing 21-17, 21-10 in the first round.

But independents Chan Peng Soon-Cheah Yee See crashed out 21-19, 21-17 to homesters Ko Sung Hyun-Eom Hye Won in the first round.

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