Indonesian great Taufik Hidayat reckons it is good for Malaysia to have a rising star like Lee Zii Jia, especially after the retirement of Lee Chong Wei.
Last June the Malaysian badminton icon announced his departure from the game, leaving a gaping hole in one of the country’s most followed sports.
"I hope he goes up, because after Chong Wei, the Malaysian men’s singles [prospect] looks like going down.
"I hope the best for Malaysia; they and Indonesia are always close," said Taufik at a Yonex meet and greet session with fans on Saturday.
Lee performed relatively well this year and shot up to 15th on the world rankings after nine quarter-final appearances on the BWF World Tour.
The Kedah-born, a big fan of Taufik, recently emulated the Indonesian’s famed backhand smash
against Kento Momota at Korea Open which went viral.
Despite having not seen the young Malaysian in action, he praised Lee for pulling off the backhand smash.
"I can tell you, that shot is not easy to execute. It takes a lot of practice on court," said Taufik.
The 38-year-old was also asked about Momota, who is dominating the men's singles at present.
The reigning world champion is tipped to clinch gold at next year’s Tokyo Olympics, but Taufik thinks it is not set in stone yet.
"Yes, Momota is in a good position because he is [world] number one and he is stable.
"But everyone has a chance at the Olympics. We have [Anthony] Ginting and Jonatan [Christie], and there are also [players from] China and Taiwan."