Zii Jia strives to be as explosive as world No. 1 Axelsen

KUALA LUMPUR: Lee Zii Jia is committed to trusting the process as he strives to elevate his game to the level of world No. 1 Viktor Axelsen.

Despite boasting a well-built physique and an explosive playing style, Zii Jia, who will turn 26 in March, still finds his potential unfulfilled.

Zii Jia, still with the national team then, achieved a breakthrough by winning the All England in 2021, but unfortunately, he struggled to build on that success.

It prompted him to take a professional approach to revive his career in early 2022.

Initially, things seemed promising as he secured back-to-back titles at the Thailand Open and Asia Championships.

However, his career once again faced challenges, with frequent early-round exits.

Despite a return to winning ways at the Arctic Open in Finland and a runner-up finish at the Denmark Open late last year, there were still no signs of him turning into a genuine title contender.

Zii Jia, once ranked as high as No. 2, insists he will bide his time searching for the stability and title-winning performance he longs for.

"Everyone has a different way to attain success. Axelsen found a solution and formula to become a champion," Zii Jia told the media after outplaying Indonesia's Jonatan Christie 21-15, 21-13 in the second round of the India Open on Thursday.

"I'm still one of those players still finding for one. Take India's Lakshya Sen, for instance. He is going through a difficult phase.

"I can feel what he feels. Players like us just need to remain patient," said Zii Jia.

World No. 19 Lakhsya is struggling to progress from finishing third at the World Championships in 2021 and runner-up at All England in 2022.

"I hate to lose, but I'm getting used to it. Going through many losses has also been good for me because the lessons have made me more mature.

"Last year, I experienced several early exits, so now my objective is to stabilise my performance.

Zii Jia's perspective holds merit, as even Axelsen did not transition into a consistent winner overnight.

While Axelsen attained significant milestones like winning his first Olympic medal, a bronze at the 2016 Rio Olympics at the age of 22 and securing his first World Championships gold in Glasgow a year later, it's crucial to note that his prolific title-winning phase began in 2020.

He has won 20 of his 27 World Tour-level victories in the last three years, and also claimed his first Olympic gold and a second world title in this period.

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