Zii Jia to give walkover in Malaysia Masters after suffering severe cramps? [NSTTV]

KUALA LUMPUR: Lee Zii Jia, appearing to be in the form of his life, could not have come closer to his first win on home soil after marching into the semi-finals of the Malaysia Masters today.

However, the 26-year-old faces a major challenge ahead of his Thailand Open final rematch with Hong Kong's Angus Ng after limping off the court following his 21-15, 19-21, 21-11 quarter-final victory over his Danish good friend Anders Antonsen.

Zii Jia could not attend the post-match press conference, and his sister-cum-manager Lee Zii Yii later revealed that he had been suffering from severe cramps and had to be rushed to the National Sports Institute (NSI) for a cold bath to aid his recovery.

The 83-minute battle with Antonsen was his eighth match in 11 days and his longest yet.

In total, Zii Jia has seen 440 minutes of action, so it wasn't surprising that it's taken its toll on him.

"Zii Jia had to seek medical assistance after the second game as his legs were feeling tight. The back-to-back action since Thailand must have been tough for him, and he was also stretched to the limit by Kiran George of India yesterday," said Zii Yii.

"He was suffering from severe cramps whether he was seated, walking, or standing. We have sent him to the ISN for him to dip in the cold bath."

When asked how Zii Jia was reacting to the setback, Zii Yii said he showed no expression.

"All he did was sit on the chair and stare blankly. He didn't say a single word and was trying to cool down."

Should Zii Jia fail to recover for the semi-finals, there's a strong likelihood that the world No. 10 might concede a walkover.

With the Paris Olympics drawing nearer by the day, Zii Jia is likely to prioritise avoiding injury.

Additionally, there are two important tournaments coming up in the next two weeks, the Singapore Open and the Indonesia Open.

"We'll do everything we can to aid his recovery. At this point, we're unsure of the extent of his condition since he just finished his match," explained Zii Yii.

"We'll have the physio assess him first and then decide what's best for him."

Regardless of tomorrow's outcome, reaching the semi-finals equals Zii Jia's best performance at home in the Malaysia Masters since 2020.

Meanwhile, Antonsen acknowledged that Zii Jia, with whom he has clashed eight times, is currently displaying some of the best badminton of his career.

"He won a tournament last week and he has played three good matches here, so it's definitely close to some of the best I've faced," said the world No.4 Antonsen, who won the Malaysia Open in January.

However, Antonsen insisted that he could have defeated Zii Jia in the thrilling encounter, despite the score of the rubber game indicating otherwise.

Still, Antonsen couldn't help but admire how Zii Jia managed to stage a strong comeback despite his cramps flaring up.

"Even though I wasn't that close in the third game, I feel like this match could have gone either way," said Antonsen.

"So, it wasn't that much that separated us today. It was momentum, when I had it, I had some good runs, and when he had it, he had some very good runs. So it was about trying to get the momentum."

"I need to know what that cool spray did to him in the beginning of the third game. I would like to get my hands on one of those.

"I definitely had the momentum at that time, so it was frustrating that I couldn't keep it from there."

"Today was a very physical match, no doubt about it. I had the feeling that I was maybe physically, in a better condition than Lee was. He was, you know, limping a little bit.

"I don't know if he was a bit hurt, obviously, he also played five matches, so credit to him."

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