Zii Jia brushes aside Leverdez to set up round-of-16 date with Chen Long


TOKYO – National men’s singles ace Lee Zii Jia (picture) marched stylishly into the round of 16 of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics with a masterful 21-17, 21-5 win over France’s Brice Leverdez in their final Group M match.

World number eight Zii Jia looked swift and sharp as he tamed the Frenchman in just 35 minutes at the Musashino Forest Sport Plaza.

In the first game, the 23-year-old Zii Jia, who is making his maiden Olympic appearance, got off to a slow start to trail the Frenchman 4-7 before turning on the style to bag 10 straight points to lead 14-7.

Although Leverdez slowly crept back into contention, Zii Jia managed to close off the first game with a crosscourt smash for a 21-17 win in 19 minutes.

Zii Jia, the reigning All England champion, was in total control of the second game as he produced a clinical performance to brush aside the world number 36 Frenchman 21-5.

However, it won’t be easy for Zii Jia in the round of 16 on Thursday (July 29) as he is down to face 2016 Rio Olympic gold medallist Chen Long of China.

Zii Jia said his strategy forcing Leverdez into long rallies paid off, especially in the second game as he collected point after point.

“He (Leverdez) does not like rallies and my plan in forcing him to do so and not rushing to get my points worked wonders,” he said.

Zii Jia admitted that he faces a tricky task against world number six Chen Long on Thursday (July 29).

“Cheng Long is very experienced and tomorrow’s match surely won’t be easy. I hope to be well prepared and give my 100 per cent,” he said.