KUALA LUMPUR: As Malaysia looks for the next men's singles star, Lee Zii Jia has taken it upon himself to be the next consistent shuttler after Lee Chong Wei.
The 19-year-old reached the second round of the Celcom Axiata Malaysia International Challenge in Pasir Gudang, Johor, today after seeing off Japan's Yusuke Onodera 21-18, 21-11.
Just over a week ago, the Kedah-born shuttler did well to reach the semi-finals of the Bitburger Open, before losing to Denmark's Rasmus Gemke.
Zii Jia, who is Malaysia's No 2 ranked men’s singles, said: "I was disappointed when I failed to reach the final in Germany, but I do not want to think too much about it.
"In fact, the draw for the Malaysia IC is not easy at all. Apart from Chong Wei, the rest of the men's singles department are all here.
"However, I want to prove that I can be the next consistent shuttler after Chong Wei. I am confident of doing well, but at the same time I do not want to pressure myself unnecessarily."
Following his recent good showing, Zii Jia has moved up to No 46 in the world.
Accompanying him to the men's singles second round are reigning national champion Lim Chi Wing, fourth seed Soong Joo Ven, sixth seed Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin, Cheam June Wei, Tan Jia Wei, Soo Teck Zhi and this year's World Junior Championship runner-up Leong Jun Hao.
Independent shuttlers Goh Giap Chin and Zulhelmi Zulkiffli also cleared the opening round at the Stadium Perbandaran Pasir Gudang.