WORLD No 6 Lee Zii Jia is all set for another showdown with Japan’s Kento Momota.
Buoyed by his current form, the men’s singles ace also believes his Malaysian teammates are better prepared to face 2014 champions Japan in the final Group D tie of the Thomas Cup tomorrow.
Yesterday, Zii Jia, who was recently crowned Asian champion at the Badminton Asia Championships in Manila, delivered Malaysia the first point when they defeated England 5-0 in the opening group tie at the Impact Arena in Bangkok.
Zii Jia defeated England’s Toby Penty 21-10, 21-15 in the opening match of the tie.
“We are aware that the tie against Japan is our main priority.
“I will likely face Momota in the first singles match.
“His form has been a little unstable lately, but I still believe his standard is up there.
“I hope to ride on this momentum and play my role well as the first singles. I also believe we have a much better team this year,” said the 24-year-old Kedah-born, who is expected to be rested in the tie against the United States today.
On paper, Zii Jia is the favourite to upstage the Japanese two-time world champion, having already defeated him once this year — in the quarter-finals of the All England in March.
And while Zii Jia has already won one title and reached two other semi-finals since turning professional in January, Momota has struggled to stay afloat, suffering two early-round exits in Germany and Manila.
At the previous Thomas Cup in Aarhus, Denmark, Malaysia lost 4-1 to Japan in the group stage, with the world No 2 getting the better of Zii Jia.
Malaysia still qualified for the knockout stage but lost 3-0 to eventual champions Indonesia.
When asked about his current condition, Zii Jia added: “I believe I will be rested against the US.
“It will be good for me to get a day’s rest before we play Japan.”
Malaysia are hoping to qualify for the quarter-finals as group winners for the first time since the 2016 edition in Kunshan, China.