Zii Jia faces defending champion Chen Long in Olympics’ round of 16 after straight sets win over French opponent

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Malaysia’s Lee Zii Jia hits a shot to France’s Brice Leverdez in their men’s singles badminton group stage match during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Musashino Forest Sports Plaza in Tokyo July 28, 2021. — AFP pic
Malaysia’s Lee Zii Jia hits a shot to France’s Brice Leverdez in their men’s singles badminton group stage match during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Musashino Forest Sports Plaza in Tokyo July 28, 2021. — AFP pic

KUALA LUMPUR, July 28 — Malaysia’s No. 1 singles shuttler Lee Zii Jia booked his spot in the men’s singles elimination rounds after a convincing 21-17, 21-5 win over French opponent Brice Leverdez in the Tokyo Olympics.

The world No. 11 took 33 minutes to defeat Leverdez, ranked 36th in the world, at the Musashino Forest Sports Plaza to finish top in Group M with two wins following his 21-5, 21-11 win over Ukraine’s Artem Pochtarov on Monday.

Lee is seeded ninth at the tournament which features world No. 1 and home favourite Kento Momota, as well as second seed Chou Tien Chen from Chinese Taipei.

He will now face the winner of Group N and defending champion sixth seed Chen Long, 32, from China tomorrow evening. Matches begin from 5pm onwards.

Both Chen and Lee are split 2-2 in their head-to-head meetings and the last time they met was at the quarterfinals of the All England Championships in 2020 where Lee was triumphant 21-12, 21-18.

Lee, 23, has been in decent form this year winning the All-England Championship in March for his biggest win on tour to date.

He is the only Malaysian singles representative and is aiming to maintain Malaysia’s record of having a finalist in the singles event since the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

The other Malaysians in action tomorrow are doubles pair Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik who face a daunting task facing Indonesia’s Marcus Fernaldi Gideon-Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo in the quarter-finals tomorrow morning at 9.35am Malaysian time.

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