Lee Zii Jia
Lee Zii Jia

NATIONAL No 1 Lee Zii Jia will struggle till the end of the season if he does not get the hang of the hectic tournament schedule.

According to Rashid Sidek, Zii Jia's inexperience is beginning to show when compared to seasoned campaigners like Denmark's Viktor Axelsen and world No 1 Kento Momota of Japan.

On Tuesday, Zii Jia suffered his second consecutive first round exit, when he was knocked out of the Indonesia Open in Bali by Denmark's world No 13 Rasmus Gemke.

Last week in the Indonesia Masters, the first of three tournaments on the Indonesian leg of the World Tour, Zii Jia threw in the towel when trailing Gemke 11-9 in the first round, citing injury.

National men's singles head coach, Hendrawan has assured that there is no need for panic.

However, fans are beginning to wonder if the reigning All England champion is just a flash in the pan.

"Of course, there is that fear that Zii Jia will end up being a one-hit wonder, but I think it's still too early to make that conclusion," said Rashid, a former Thomas Cup winner and Olympic bronze medallist.

"I do not doubt Zii Jia's ability as a world beater, but I do question his maturity on court.

"We tend to forget that he is at least four years younger than players like Axelsen and Momota.

"The Covid-19 pandemic has also made life difficult for everyone.

"Since leaving for the Sudirman Cup in September, Zii Jia has not been training like he used to, here in Kiara (Academy Bdminton Malaysia).

"When you're so far from home, everything, including how long you train on court, is limited.

"Zii Jia could be suffering from mental fatigue, but he cannot use that as an excuse because other top players do the same thing.

"This is where the coach (Hendrawan) plays a very important role to help motivate his player.

"If Zii Jia doesn't come out of this rut, I see him struggling until the end of the season," Rashid said.

Currently ranked seventh in the world, the 23-year-old still has the BWF World Tour Finals next week, and the World Championships in Huelva, Spain on Dec 12-19.

Zii Jia has not had a break since the Sudirman Cup in Vantaa, Finland on Sept 26-Oct 3, as he went on to feature in the Thomas Cup in Aarhus, Denmark, followed by the Denmark and French Opens, as well as the Hylo Open in Saarbrücken, Germany before flying to Bali.

Meanwhile, Malaysia's interest in men's singles at the Indonesia Open ended yesterday, when Liew Daren was sent packing 21-14, 21-15 in the first round by 2018 Asian Games champion, Jonatan Christie of Indonesia.

Jonatan will face another local shuttler, Chico Aura Dwi Wardoyo, in the second round today.

In women's doubles, Lee Meng Yean-Yap Cheng Wen booked their place in the second round following a hard fought 21-12, 19-21, 26-24 win over Denmark's Alexandra Bøje-Mette Poulsen.

Meng Yean-Cheng Wen will take on fifth seeds Gabriela Stoeva-Stefanie Stoeva of Bulgaria next.

Also reaching the second round were independent duo, Vivian Hoo-Lim Chiew Sien who defeated Indonesia's Melani Mamahit-Tryola Nadia 15-21, 21-8, 21-10 in the first round.

The Malaysians are up against third seeds Jonkolphan Kititharakul-Rawinda Prajongjai of Thailand today.