KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 1 – Lee Zii Jia has cleared his first hurdle in Group B at the season-ending BWF World Tour Finals which got underway in Denpasar, Bali on Wednesday when the Malaysian hope defeated Thailand’s rising star Kunlavut Vitidsarn.
The 23-year-old Malaysian wrapped his opening match in 51 minutes with a 21-15, 21-16 but it was far from convincing overall.
The Kedah-born Zii Jia was trailing in both games but came back strong to steady himself for a winning start.
Vitidsarn, a three-world junior champion, seemed to be disturbed by a finger injury and needed medical treatment on the sidelines.
This upset his rhythm and allowed Zii Jia to come back into the picture.
In another Group B match, India’s former World No 1 K. Srikanth also made a winning start to his campaign in the lucrative World Tour Finals which carries a whopping USD1.5 million in prize money.
The Indian ace stopped Frenchman Toma Junior Popov 21-14, 21-16 in 42 minutes.
While Zii Jia made a winning start, Malaysian women’s doubles hope Pearly Tan-M. Thinaah slumped to a 14-21, 14-21 defeat to Korean pair Kim Soyeong-Kong Heeyong in a 45-minute encounter in Group A.
In the same group Indonesia’s Tokyo Olympics gold medalists Greysia Polii-Apriyani Rahayu roared to a 21-15, 21-12 win over Thailand’s Jongkolphan Kititharakul-Rawinda Prajongaji in a 37-minute match.
Meanwhile, in an all-Malaysian round robin match in Group A mixed doubles Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying gave themselves a morale boosting win over Tan Kian Meng-Lai Pei Jing in the season-ending BWF World Tours Finals in Bali on Wednesday.
The Rio Olympics silver medalists walked away with a 21-14, 21-13 win in 38 minutes and will face Denmark’s Mathias Christiansen-Alexandra Boje in their second match on Thursday. Kian Meng-Pei Jing will be up against Japan’s Yuta Watanabe and need a win to stay alive.
Ong Yew Sin-Teo Ee Yi also got off their campaign in the men’s doubles with a straight game 21-16, 21-19 win over Popov brothers Christo-Toma Junior in 46 minutes in a Group B match. They next face Indonesians Pramudya Kusumawardana-Yeremia Yacob Rambitan.
However, it was a bizarre start to the men’s singles in Group A with World No 1 Kento Momota of Japan and Denmark’s Rasmus Gemke, retiring from their respective matches against India’s Lakshya Sen and Viktor Axelsen.
Momota called it quits with the score tied 1-1 against the Indian after a minutes play while Axelsen was leading 5-1 against his compatriot in the third minute. There will be no match between Momota and Gemke on Thursday while Axelsen will face Lakshya.