Birmingham: Malaysia’s World No. 10 men’s singles player Lee Zii Jia headed into 2021 All England with doubters wondering how far could he go after doing poorly at the 3 back-to-back tournaments in Bangkok, in January of 2021.
Lee was determined to redeem himself in the eyes of his critics. His commitment has not been in doubt this time at the All England, beating World No. 1 Kento Momota in the quarter-finals, and outlasted Mark Caljouw of Netherlands on Saturday with a convincing 21-13, 21-17 victory to move into the All England final.
He will play World No. 2, Viktor Axelsen of Denmark, for the title. After losing to Anders Antonsen in the final of the 2020 BWF World Tour Finals, the World No. 2 came back from 6-11 down in the decider, launching different variations of smashes and kept pushing the World No. 3 Antonsen to the baseline while finding the opportunity to kill. Axelsen eventually claimed the match 16-21, 21-7, 21-17.
It’s worth noting that Lee lost to Axelsen in the 2020 All England semi-finals due to a controversial net fault that was called by the umpire at 19-19 in the decider. That call completely changed the dynamic of the match, as it slipped away from Lee’s grasp at the very end, and Axelsen went on to win his first All England the next day.
After dominating the women’s doubles and mixed doubles events by setting up all-Japanese finals, Japan made another history with another all-Japanese match-up in the men’s doubles final between No. 3 Takeshi Kamura/Keigo Sonoda and No. 4 seeds Hiroyuki Endo/Yuta Watanabe. This was the first time that the Japanese team has monopolized the men’s doubles final since the start of the All England men’s doubles event in 1899.
Takeshi Kamura/Keigo Sonoda saw off Kim Astrup/Anders Skaarup Rasmussen of Denmark 21-18, 21-14 in the semi-final, while Hiroyuki Endo/Yuta Watanabe also overcame another Denmark pair, Jeppe Bay/Lasse Mølhede 21-13, 21-11 to reach the final.
This year’s All England saw the Indonesian team was forced to withdraw from the competition due to the COVID-19 controversy, while China did not participate in the competition.