Kuala Lumpur – It was indeed a final to forget for national top men’s singles, Lee Zii Jia as he had to retire due to a lower back injury in the deciding set of the men’s singles match of Hylo Open 2021 in Saarbrücken, Germany, earlier today Malaysian time.
Second seed Zii Jia had to withdraw from the game as he trailed 12-17 which gave the unseeded Singaporean Loh Kean Yew the title in a match that lasted over 64 minutes held at the Saarlandhalle Saarbrucken indoor arena.
Zii Jia, ranked eighth best in the world, started strongly as he led Kean Yew 11-7 but a series of mistakes allowed the Singaporean to steal point after point and reduce the deficit to 19-18.
At 20-18, the game was delayed for about seven minutes when Kean Yew suffered a gash on his right knuckle and was forced to seek medical treatment courtside.
The Malaysian shuttler then regained his composure before wrapping up the first set 21-19.
The hand injury, however, did not dampen the world number 39 player’s spirit and instead pulled off a stunning comeback, courtesy of a string of deadly smashes to take the next set, 21-13 and forced the game into a rubber set.
It was another nail biting contest in the deciding game especially in the early stages as both shuttlers got into a neck to neck battle to go level at 10-10.
Zii Jia’s back injury, however, took a toll eventually and this allowed Kean Yew to widen the deficit to 17-12 and eventually recorded a career-defining moment after the Malaysian could not complete the game and retired.
The win saw Kean Yew extend his unbeaten record over Zii Jia after last week’s sensational 24-22, 21-14 win in the first round of the French Open.
Zii Jia’s loss, meanwhile, takes his title drought to eight months since emerging victorious against Victor Axelsen of Denmark 30-29, 20-22, 21-9 in the All England Badminton Championships 2021 in Birmingham, England, last March. — Bernama