Viktor Axelsen has found – for want of a better term – his ‘sweet spot’, the point at which everything comes together. Lee Zii Jia is still searching for that elusive feeling.
The Malaysian knows there is plenty of talk about his form, particularly after he fell in the first round of his home Malaysia Open, but he also accepts that he is a work in progress. He has come a long way, but he acknowledges that, for his performance to be more consistent, there are some parts of the puzzle that are yet to fall in place.
“I need to try to find– what can I say – a proper strategy that suits me, so I can play along with that strategy through my career. You can see Axelsen has already found his. That’s why he has such a stable performance all the way,” he said, after navigating a tricky opener at the YONEX SUNRISE India Open 2023.
But is it one thing, or many small things?
“It’s many things that you have to combine. Because me, I don’t have a coach, so Daren (Liew) and I have to work out something new and try to find a strategy. Different players will have different solutions.”
Turning independent meant that the attention on him would be that much greater. Lee insists that he will need time.
“I’ve always maintained that after becoming a professional player, it will be a tough challenge for me. Maybe it will take me more than two years to become a better player. I don’t know. But I’m ready for the challenge. And as I said, once I decided to become a professional player, I’m ready to accept the challenge.
“First of all, there is pressure from the expectations of Malaysian fans at home and all around the world, they expect me to be more stable after I turned professional. They expect me to have more high performance. As I said, it might take me maybe two, three or four years to make me a better player because it’s a new challenge as a professional player.
“The expectations do bother me, I have to admit that. Currently I try to stay apart from all this and try to stay focussed on badminton.”