KUALA LUMPUR, March 22 – It was a test of character and determination as Malaysia’s Lee Zii Jia dethroned defending champion and World No 2, Viktor Axelsen of Denmark in a 74-minute thriller to win the men’s singles title in the prestigious Yonex All-England.
The 22-year-old Kedahan defeating the Dane 30-29, 20-22, 21-9, earned himself an early birthday present.
Zii Jia celebrates his 23rd birthday on March 29 and also earned his biggest pay cheque of USD59,500 which came with the title.
His win ended Malaysia’s four-year wait in Birmingham after former World No 1 Datuk Lee Chong Wei won the title in 2017.
And Chong Wei also played an inspiring role in Zii Jia’s win with his guidance and preparations for the biggie after he was heavily criticized for his poor performance in the Yonex Thailand Open, the Toyota Thailand Open and World Tour Finals in Bangkok early this year.
Axelsen took the court with a 3-l lead over Zii Jia in their four previous meetings. However, Zii Jia gave his confidence a big boost when he knocked out current World No 1 and two-time world champion Kento Momota of Japan in the quarter-finals 21-16, 21-19.
Zii Jia was also hungry for success and handled the pressure well in Birmingham. He had lost to Axelsen in the semi-finals in All-England debut last year.
He came to Birmingham this year after making the semi-finals in the Yonex Swiss Open in Basel a week earlier.

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