Lee Zii Jia overcomes scare to reach German Open second round

World number 25 Mark Caljouw takes first game against Malaysian fifth seed in Mülheim before Lee recovers to win in three games.

By ZK Goh
Picture by 2021 Getty Images

Lee Zii Jia, Malaysia's world number seven, survived a massive scare in his opening-round clash at badminton's German Open 2022 on Wednesday (9 March) to reach the round of 16.

The fifth seed was paired against Netherlands' Mark Caljouw, the world number 25, who proved to perhaps be tougher than Lee expected.

It was the 27-year-old Dutchman who took control of the match from the start, surprising Lee with his play in the opening game as the Malaysian favourite struggled to get a foothold in the match.

Caljouw was perhaps motivated by the result of his last match against Lee, when the Malaysian eliminated him in last year's All England semi-finals.

However, after dropping the first game 19–21 to Caljouw, Lee finally found his focus.

The 23-year-old, who disassociated himself from Malaysia's national badminton federation in January to become an independent player, rebounded strongly – he took the second-game lead from the start and never relinquished it, taking it 21–13 to level the match.

And his showing turned into total dominance in the deciding game, at one point rolling off six straight points to see out the match 19–21, 21–13, 21–8.

Lee now plays France's Christo Popov in the next round.

Christie also through in three games

Elsewhere, Indonesia's Jonatan Christie was also given a stern first-round test as he needed an hour and 18 minutes to see off China's Li Shi Feng.

The 24-year-old never looked fully comfortable during the three-game match against Li, which he won 21–16, 18–21, 21–15.

Christie never reeled off more than four points in a row during the match as Li stuck close to his sixth-seeded opponent before the Indonesian finally saw out the match.

He next faces Thailand's Kunlavut Vitidsarn in the second round.

Meanwhile, Japan's world number two Momota Kento lost in straight games to counterpart Nishimoto Kenta.

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