INDONESIAN badminton legends Liem Swie King and Taufik Hidayat may not see their country’s current crop of singles players as world class, but Lee Zii Jia believes otherwise.
In fact, 2021 All England champion Zii Jia said world No 5 Anthony Sinisuka Ginting and world No 8 Jonatan Christie, are the players to beat if Malaysia are to wrest the Thomas Cup from Indonesia in Bangkok next month.
World No 7 Zii Jia, who was called up by BAM for centralised training last week, said: “I don’t agree with them (Swie King and Taufik). I think Anthony and Jonatan are already top players in their own rights.
“I’ve played them both many times, and they are no easy opponents.
“I’m already preparing myself to face them, because they can win it for Indonesia.”
For the record, Zii Jia has only beaten Ginting and Jonatan once each in five previous meetings.
It was Ginting and Jonatan who delivered a point each when Indonesia defeated Malaysia 3-0 in the quarter-finals of the 2020 Thomas Cup in Aarhus, Denmark, en route to their 14th world men’s team title.
For the coming Thomas Cup, Malaysia are drawn in Group D with 2014 champions Japan, England and New Zealand. In Group A are Indonesia, South Korea, Thailand and Singapore.
Swie King, a Thomas Cup winner in 1976, 1979 and 1984, was reported by the Indonesian media as echoing Taufik’s sentiments that both Ginting and Jonatan are not world class material.
Taufik, who inspired Indonesia to the 2000 and 2002 Thomas Cup, pointed out that Ginting and Jonatan are still struggling to make an impact in top tier tournaments despite their high rankings.
Jonatan, the 2018 Asian Games champion, only managed to end his three-year title drought this year when he bagged the Super 300 Swiss Open crown last month, while Ginting’s last title was at the 2020 Indonesia Masters.
However, what Indonesia lack in their singles department, they make up for it through their doubles.
Boasting three world top 10 pairs, with three more in the top 25, Indonesia look ready to defend their Thomas Cup crown once again.