With several Malaysian shuttlers being among the top seeds in their respective fields for the upcoming Swiss Open (March 2-7) which is without a host of big name shuttlers, expectations are naturally high that they live up to their billing.
Lee Zii Jia is seeded second in the men’s singles behind Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen, Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik are top seeds in the men’s doubles and so are Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying in the mixed doubles.
In the women’s doubles, Chow Mei Kuan-Lee Meng Yean are seeded second.
Among all of them, plenty of attention will be paid to how Lee performs time around, on the back of a tame outing at the recent Asian Tour in Bangkok.
National coaching director Wong Choong Hann wanted the lanky shuttler to try and reach the final.
“We are hoping for that, but we will not make it a priority. What is important is for him to pull himself together, both physically and mentally after the disastrous outing in Thailand. We have given him a pep talk after that performance,” Wong told Stadium Astro.
Lee was out of sorts in Bangkok, falling in the last eight of Thai 1 before blowing a huge lead in Thai 2 to lose in the first round.
He capped off a forgettable outing at the 2020 World Tour Finals by losing all his group matches against Axelsen, Chou Tien-chen and Anthony Ginting to finish bottom of the pile.
But at the Swiss Open, Lee looks to be given a chance to make amends, especially with the draw void of big names like Chou, Ginting, Anders Antonsen and Kento Momota.
The Malaysian faces South Korea’s Heo Kwang Hee in the first round, and is expected to clear his hurdles until the final where a potential clash against Axelsen awaits.
Wong confirmed the Malaysian contingent would make the 17-hour journey to Basel on Saturday night: “We will be doing the Covid-19 test on Friday, as we need to produce a negative result 72-hours prior to arrival.
“For us, it’s the usual KPI to live up to their billing. If we can return with at least one title, that would be a good start.”
The shuttlers will remain in Basel until March 14, before departing for Birmingham for the All-England Open (March 17-21).