5 Points up

The Perodua Malaysian Masters ended without any home winners for the third straight year. But it was not entirely a letdown as Lee Zii Jia is beginning to show that he’s on his way to becoming a world-class player after a giant-killing run that saw him reach the semi-finals. Here are five talking points of the tournament.

ZII JIA IS COMING OF AGE

Beating higher-ranked players is becoming something that Zii Jia is getting accustomed to. The 21-year-old added world No. 4 Anders Antonsen of Denmark and No. 8 Shi Yuqi of China to his list of “victims” that already includes the likes of other world top 10 stars Chou Tien-chen, Chen Long and Viktor Axelsen. This shows how far Zii Jia has progressed ever since he took over the baton from Lee Chong Wei. Expect more from him this year.

LIN DAN A FADING FORCE

There was no happy return for Chinese superstar Lin Dan (pic), whose last visit to Kuala Lumpur saw him win the Malaysian Open last April. The two-time Olympic champion’s hopes of making his fifth appearance at the Tokyo Games took a big hit following a dismal first-round exit at the hands of Jan O Jorgensen. He’s running out of time as he’s currently ranked 22nd in the Race to Tokyo rankings. He needs to crack the top 16 by April 30 to make the cut.

PLAYERS WANT HAWKEYE

P. V. Sindhu echoed the call of Viktor Axelsen for BWF to implement Hawkeye technology on all courts after lamenting poor line judgments during her second round win over Aya Ohori. The Indian women’s world singles champion felt the poor line calls could make or break a match. While line judges can make mistakes because they are only human, having Hawkeye on all courts would eliminate errors.

KIEN KEAT vs BOON HEONG

Former world No. 1 men’s doubles pair Koo Kien Keat and Tan Boon Heong were reunited at the tournament, but not really. Fans found the two sitting on the opposite ends awkwardly as rivals. Boon Heong was lending his help to newly-turned independent pair Ong Yew Sin-Teo Ee Yi while Kien Keat sat as the coach of Korean pair Kim Gi-jung-Lee Yong-dae in the quarter-final between the two pairs. Kien Keat’s guidance did work some magic as the Koreans went on to claim the title.

WEI CHONG-PEARLY IN THE MIX

THE world No. 89 pair’s win against world No. 5 Praveen Jordan-Melati Daeva Oktavianti may have been a flash in the pan, but Wei Chong and Pearly deserve more chances to prove their worth in the mixed doubles event. They are currently training with respective men and women’s doubles squads, and only enter the mixed doubles whenever they are assigned. But the fact that the duo have won the Malaysian International Challenge and were finalists at the Malaysian International Series without proper training speaks volumes of their potential.

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