KUALA LUMPUR, June 29 — National number one men’s singles shuttler Lee Zii Jia cleared the Malaysia Open first round as expected by ousting Nhat Nguyen of Ireland at the Axiata Arena today.

Although it was a point-for-point battle in the early part of the first game, the world number five Zii Jia did not face much trouble from the world number 40 shuttler, winning 21-15, 21-11 in 47 minutes.

Commenting on the win, Zii Jia said he was now better at handling the pressure compared to his last appearance in the 2019 edition, before the tournament was halted for two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I am more composed and mature to handle any kind of pressure, especially with this kind of crowd here. The solid support of fans is definitely very good for players.

“However, the wind condition this time is different from that I experienced three years ago. I have not adapted 100 per cent to the strong draft. There is room for improvement in the next match,” he told reporters.

In the last 16 tomorrow, the 24-year-old former All England champion is expected to have another easy match against Shesar Hiren Rhustavito of Indonesia, who received a walkover from Rasmus Gemke of Denmark.

Meanwhile, another Malaysian singles shuttler Ng Tze Yong, who received an inclusion from the reserve list to play in the Badminton World Federation (BWF) Tour Super 750 tournament, almost staged an upset against world number 27 Lu Guang Zu of China.

The world number 48 fought hard close to one hour and 30 minutes before going down 16-21, 23-21, 18-21 to the 2021 Sudirman Cup winner after suffering a leg cramp.

The 22-year-old Johorean said he could have won the match if he had increased the speed when tied at 18-18 in the decider.

“Today I was determined to go all out for a win. My training in the past few weeks also went well; the injury is no excuse for the defeat.

“After this I will have to be better focused and rectify my weaknesses to ensure victory if given another chance like this,” he said.

Tze Yong will now focus on his preparations for the Malaysia Masters next week, followed by the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham from July 28 to August 8. — Bernama