Arctic Open Gold for LEE Zii Jia

An all-Malaysian MS final at the Arctic open brought us the lip-smacking prospect of Spicy Chicken versus the Mushroom – or, for those less versed in Chinese nicknames: LEE Zii Jia against NG Tze Yong.   This clash not only promised an enthralling match for the neutral fan but was also an exciting advert for the depth of talent in the Malaysian team. In this high-stakes battle both players needed Gold but only one could stand at the top of the podium when Negaraku played.

lzj alamy
2T08EMJ Hangzhou, China’s Zhejiang Province. 5th Oct, 2023. Lee Zii Jia of Malaysia competes against Prannoy Haseena Sunil Kumar of India during the Men’s Singles Quarterfinal of Badminton at the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, east China’s Zhejiang Province, Oct. 5, 2023. Credit: Ren Zhenglai/Xinhua/Alamy Live News

The tenacious progress of NTY since his superb performances at the last Commonwealth Games – including his dispatch of Viktor Axelsen at this year’s All England – reveal a player who is poised to challenge the best in the world.  In contrast, LZJ has weathered a very up-and-down year and suffered an excess of unnecessary media scrutiny as a result. Nevertheless, he’s in the process of refining his game; cultivating patience and cutting errors. Game on!

Set 1: Advantage Lee Zii Jia 21-14

With a smash speed consistently higher than 410kph LZJ went full throttle courtesy of an unwilling green light from NTY. Tze Yong struggled to contain Zii Jia’s aggressive accuracy and was sucked into a reactive game that stopped him from getting any sort of foothold in the first set. It was all over in 16 minutes.

Set 2

NG Tze Yong found himself bulldozed by the sheer brutality of LEE Zii Jia’s game. Usually, he can remain composed and counter an onslaught but today he struggled for ideas against his compatriot. In the blink of an eye LZJ had charged into a 5-0 lead; he was completely dominant and enjoying the flow of his game. We only saw fleeting glimpses of what NTY is capable of. He fought to claw his way back into the match but could not halt the progress of LEE Zii Jia to a well-deserved Gold 21-15.

LEE Zii Jia came to the match planning to give Ng Tze Yong no chance to breath. It was a tough 39 minutes for NTY but his progress to the final showed his impressive growth. Meanwhile, Lee Zii Jia’s relentless attacking prowess was an exhilarating sight. What an exciting day for fans of the two players.

Edit: The two of them were actually on the podium to Queen’s We Are The Champions. I think the ‘We’ is appropriate!

If you enjoyed this then take a look at one from my archives about LZJ

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