ALL ENGLAND: ZII JIA IS THE CHAMP!

21

Mar

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National men's singles champion Lee Zii Jia has been crowned champion of the All England. 

The 22-year-old win of badminton's oldest competition last night in Birmingham has buried the nightmares he suffered in Bangkok to once again put him back on track as the nation’s next big hope. 

Down as the sixth seed, the odds were already stacked against Zii Jia as he was up against the second ranked Victor Axelsen of Denmark. 

This even though Zii Jia had just beaten the world's No. 1 shuttler Japan's Kento Momota two days prior. 

The match-up between the two was a repeat of the semifinals of the All England a year earlier although this time round, Zii Jia and Axelsen would be playing for the crown itself. 

And the first set was fast and it was furious with little separating the two as they played catch up with one another until the score stood at 29 apiece. 

Then, Zii Jia took advantage of a slight slip up to seize the game 30-29. 

The Kedah lad Zii Jia continue to dominate the second set and where at one point, he was leading 18-14. 

But perhaps the pressure crept in on Zii Jia as it allowed Axelsen the space to sneak in for the 22-20 win to take the second set and forced the game into the rubber. 

Axelsen, who was fast getting tired after the two long sets, failed to take control of the third as his series of mistakes gave Zii Jia an easy 21-9 victory to win the men's singles title. 

“We both played well today until in the third set, Axelsen lost focus and that’s where I started to get the edge. 

"It was a very tight game until 30-29. Similarly in the second set, we had to focus on every point. We can't be complacent even for a moment because the opponent will take chances if they are complacent," said Lee Zii Jia 

The win also ended the 4-year wait of an All England champion following Datuk Lee Chong Wei's victory in 2017. 

Zii Jia also became the sixth player to win this championship with his sweetest moment being his win over Momota in the quarterfinals. O


In the other results, Japan's fourth seed Hiroyuki Endo-Yuta Watanabe overcame third seed Takeshi Kamura-Keigo Sonoda 21-15, 17-21, 21-11 to win the men's doubles while second seed in the women's doubles, Mayu Matsumoto-Wakana Nagahara stunned first seed Yuki Fukushima-Sayaka Hirota 21-18, 21-16 for the crown. 

The women’s singles title also went Japan's way when second seed Nozomi Okuhara beat sixth seed from Thailand, Pornpawee Chochuwong 21-12 21-16. 

On the other hand, second seed Yuta Watanabe - Arisa Higashino ditched Yuki Kaneko - Misaki Matsumoto 21-14, 21-13 to emerge as the mixed doubles champion.