KUALA LUMPUR: National men’s top singles shuttler Lee Zii Jia (pix) finally broke the early round jinx, as he advanced to 2023 All England semi-finals, eliminating rising Japanese star Kodai Naraoka, tonight.

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 number six Japanese, who stunned Zii Jia in the first round of the season-opening Malaysia Open, bounced back to secure the second set 21-10.

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

World number four Zii Jia 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, Zii Jia has not won a title, nor progressed beyond the second round in other tournaments.

Zii Jia’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

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