Thomas Cup: Momota still up there – Zii Jia


BANGKOK – World number two player, Kento Momota may have endured a patch of bad form lately but national professional singles ace, Lee Zii Jia (picture) believes that the Japanese great is still the best in the business.

Zii Jia said he will not underestimate Momota as both players are scheduled to lock horns in the final Group D tie of the 2022 Thomas Cup Finals come this Wednesday (May 11).

As such, the world number six shuttler, who earlier today had trounced Toby Penty in straight sets, 21-10, 21-15, to earn the first point for Malaysia against England in the opening match of their Group D tie, hopes to keep his momentum and deliver a strong performance against Momota.

“After I beat him at the All England he (Momota) he has been a very stable player but I feel his standard is still up there.

“I don’t know when he will get his form back, so I can’t take Momota lightly,” he told reporters when met after his match against Penty.

The newly-crowned Badminton Asia Championships 2022 champion trounced Penty in straight sets, 21-10, 21-15.

The Malaysian shuttlers then completed the rout with a 5-0 win against England.

Last March, Zii Jia defeated Momota in the last eight of the All England Badminton Championships 2022 in a three-setter, 21-7, 13-21, 21-11.

As Zii Jia may be given a ‘day off’ from  duty in the second group tie against the United States (USA) tomorrow, the 24-year-old Kedahan has already set his sights to help Malaysia triumph against Japan.

“I might be not playing against USA tomorrow. I think we could use a similar strategy against Japan,” he said.

Japan,  who did not field several of their stars including Momota, thrashed USA 5-0 in another Group D tie, also today.

In the meantime, team captain Aaron Chia, who combined with Soh Wooi Yik to score the second point for Malaysia after beating Ben Lane-Sean Vendy 19-21, 21-15, 21-16, hopes to do better against Japan in a bid to top Group D.

Meanwhile, Japan’s head coach, Park Joo-bong, admitted that Momota is still finding his rhythm particularly after the former two-time world champion was involved in a car crash in Kuala Lumpur, two years ago.

The former Malaysia and England coach also said that Momota’s painful defeat at the hands of world number one, Viktor Axelsen of Denmark in the Denmark Open final last October, losing in  22-20, 18-21, 12-21, had indeed taken a toll on his charge’s performance up until now.

“Momota followed all the training programmes but perhaps mentally after the accident he is yet to recover.

“I think he was too tired, after the Denmark Open he played in the French Open semi-final a week later but he had to give walkover to another Japanese shuttler, Kanta Tsuneyama,” he added.