Lee Zii Jia got his BWF World Tour Finals off to a cracking start after the Malaysian got the better of Kunvalut Vitidsarn in straight games 21-15, 21-16 to temporarily go top of Group B on Wednesday.
The second seeded Lee came into this tournament on the back two consecutive retirements at the Hylo Open final and Indonesia Masters opener due to a hip injury, before he lost in the opening game of last week’s Indonesia Open.
But the world number eight looked to be at his attacking best against the Thai, who last beat him at the Swiss Open earlier this year.
The opening exchanges of the first game was tight, but Lee was able to gradually pull away as he upped the tempo in the final stretch to win 21-15.
The second game was trickier as Kunvalut held a slim lead, but the All-England champion was again relentless with his cross-court smashes which produced many winners for the 51-minute victory.
“Zii Jia definitely played better than last week. He is fresh, more focused and had the hunger to win today. With back to back tournaments like this, who is fresher will capitalize,” said national singles chief Hendrawan after the win.
On Thursday, Lee should confirm a place to the semi-finals should he beat Toma Popov Junior, who lost to K.Srikanth in the other match.
In an earlier match, women’s doubles Pearly Tan-M.Thinaah lost in straight games 14-21, 14-21 to South Korea’s Kim Soyeong-Kong Hee-yong.
Tan-Thinaah did not start well with many simple mistakes in both games, and even though they rallied on to the mid-game intervals, they could not find the cutting edge.
The world number 18 pair now have to find a way to beat top seeds Jongkolphan Kititharakul-Rawinda Prajonglai on Thursday to stand a chance of making the semis.
In the Group A mixed doubles, Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying won an all-Malaysian affair after they brushed aside Tan Kian Meng-Lai Pei Jing 21-14, 21-13.
Chan-Goh next play Mathias Christiansen-Alexandra Boje, who were convincingly beaten 12-21, 15-21 by top seeds Yuta Watanabe-Arisa Higashino.
Ong Yew Sin-Teo Ee Yi also won their opening men’s doubles Group B match against Christo-Toma Popov 21-16, 21-19, and next face Indonesia’s Pramudya Kusumawardana-Yeremia Yacob on Thursday.