Sports

Malaysian shuttler Lee Zii Jia, 22, claims his first All England title

Malaysia's Lee Zii Jia announced his arrival on the big stage by clinching his first All England Open badminton singles title at Arena Birmingham last night.

The world No. 10 defeated the defending champion, Denmark's world No. 2 Viktor Axelsen, 30-29, 20-22, 21-9 in one hour 14 minutes to prove himself worthy of being the succesor to his senior, Lee Chong Wei, the last Malaysian to win the title in 2017.

In yesterday's final, the junior Lee, 22, and Axelsen, 27, were neck and neck in the first set, with the Malaysian eventually prevailing when he became the first to reach 30 points.

Lee dominated the second set, and looked poised for the title with an 18-14 lead, but Axelsen clawed his way back to send the match into a decider.

But there was no denying Lee, who continued his fine attacking display in the rubber set for his second World Tour title, with his first coming at the 2018 Chinese Taipei Open.

This is Lee's second major scalp at the All England Open, following his quarter-final victory over world No. 1 Kento Momota.

In the women's singles final, Nozomi Okuhara claimed the title after defeating Thailand's Pornpawee Chochuwong 21-12, 21-16.

With the tournament not counting towards Olympic qualification, leading Asian badminton nations China, South Korea and Taiwan had opted not to travel because of Covid-19 restrictions.

Indonesia's team were forced to withdraw from the tournament last week after a passenger on their flight to Britain tested positive for the coronavirus.

OTHER SPORTS