NATIONAL men’s singles professional shuttler Lee Zii Jia believes that his recent triumph in the Thailand Open helped him to bounce back from a first-game loss to overcome China’s Zhao Jun Peng in the opening round of the 2024 Malaysia Masters today.

The 26-year-old, also the fifth seed, lost the first game 19-21 before putting on a calm, composed and controlled performance to win the next two 21-11, 21-14 in 61 minutes at the Axiata Arena in Bukit Jalil.

“I think the confidence I gained in Thailand helped me to manage the disappointment (of losing) the first game. I am happy with how I managed the game today,” he said.

This is Zii Jia’s third win over Jun Peng, having defeated the China shuttler in the 2022 German Open and 2023 Hong Kong Open.

Zii Jia, winner of the 2021 All England title, will next take on Kiran George after the India shuttler downed Japan’s Takuma Obayashi 21-16, 21-17 in another first-round match of the Super 500 tournament.

“Usually, these young players (that we acknowledge as) rising stars... they have no pressure and just come up and upset you. As a seeded player and ranked in the top 10 in the world, these are the challenges that I have to manage (against Kiran),” he said.

Top national men’s doubles pair Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik also cleared the first hurdle when they edged South Korea’s Kim Young Hyuk-Wang Chan 21-18, 22-20 today.

“We made many mistakes but we gave it our best shot and regained our focus when we took the lead in the second game. This is not permissible but we managed to handle the situation,” Wooi Yik said when asked to comment on the game.

The win ensures the top-seeded Aaron-Wooi Yik a first-ever meeting against China’s Chen Bo Yang-Liu Yi in the last 16 tomorrow.

On paper, 2022 world champions and current world number four Aaron-Wooi Yik should have no problems getting past the world number 25 China pair for a place in the quarter-finals.