Lee Zii Jia put on an improved performance but failed to get off the mark at the BWF World Tour Finals after succumbing 16-21, 21-12, 11-21 to third seed Chou Tien-chen in the men’s singles on Wednesday.
Lee, who lost to Chou in the last eight of the Yonex Thailand Open, looked jittery in the first set with several unforced errors to give the world number two the advantage.
The Malaysian significantly improved in the second set, switching to offense mode to catch out his opponent with several silky returns for a fairly comfortable 21-12 win.
But Chou seized the momentum in the third set as Lee again looked to be the architect of his own downfall by gifting easy points, which the shuttler opposite him cashed in to win 21-11.
Lee’s chances of progressing to the semis are now hanging by a thread unless he can produce a mammoth performance against the in-form Viktor Axelsen on Thursday.
The Dane has been in magnificent form in Bangkok by bagging both the Thailand Open titles, and will take some performance to dethrone.
Earlier, last week’s Toyota Thailand Open finalists Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik opened their Group B campaign with a 21-14, 21-19 victory over South Koreans Choi Sol-gyu-Seo Seung-jae in 38 minutes.
The world number nine pair were comprehensively beaten in the final against Chinese Taipei duo Lee Yang-Wang Chi-lin, but said making their first BWF World Tour final in two years gave them confidence coming into this backdated season finale.
“This first win will build our confidence for the next two matches. My first thought when I saw the draw was that maybe it’s a little tougher than Group A. But all eight pairs are equal,” said Chia after the win.
The second seeds next face Russian pair Vladimir Ivanov-Ivan Sozonov to book their place in the semi-finals.
Ong Yew Sin-Teo Ee Yi became another casualty to the prowess of Lee-Wang in the Group A opener, as the double Thailand Open finalists overcame the Malaysians 21-18, 24-22 in 40 minutes.
The back-to-back Thailand Open champions were playing in full confidence and continued their relentless high attacking tempo to keep intact their perfect record since arriving in Bangkok.
Ong-Teo have a chance to make amends when they play English pair Marcus Ellis-Chris Langridge on Thursday.
In the women’s doubles, Chow Mei Kuan-Lee Meng Yean won the all-Malaysian encounter against Vivian Hoo-Yap Cheng Wen 21-16, 10-21, 21-15 in a battle that lasted over an hour.
Chow-Lee play South Koreans Lee Soo-hee-Shin Seung-chan on Thursday, while Vivian-Yap are up against top seeds Indonesians Greysia Polli-Apriyani Rahayu.