Zii Jia overpowers Naraoka to book All England semis berth

Malaysia’s top men’s singles shuttler Lee Zii Jia (pictured) defeats rising Japanese star Kodai Naraoka to advance to the 2023 All England semi-finals. – EPA pic, March 18, 2023.

NATIONAL men’s top singles shuttler Lee Zii Jia advanced to the 2023 All England semi-finals, eliminating rising Japanese star Kodai Naraoka last night.

After facing criticism for failing to get past the second round in four consecutive tournaments, the 24-year-old started off well at the Utilita Arena in Birmingham, beating Naraoka 21-9.

The world no. 6 Japanese, who stunned Lee in the first round of the season-opening Malaysia Open, bounced back to secure the second set 21-10.

Lee, the 2021 All England champion, then took an early lead in the decider to win 21-13 after a 67-minute battle.

The world no. 4 will next face Shi Yu Qi of China, who easily defeated compatriot Weng Hong Yang 21-9, 21-16.

Since winning the Thailand Open in May last year, Lee has not won a title, nor progressed beyond the second round in other tournaments.

Lee’s 2023 season ended in the early stages in all four championships he had participated in, when he was knocked out in the second round in the India Open, Indonesia Masters and most recently the German Open, apart from the home tournament heartbreak. – Bernama, March 18, 2023.

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