Birmingham: The 22-year-old Lee Zii Jia hasn’t won a BWF World Tour event since winning the 2018 Chinese Taipei Open. After his struggling performance at the three back-to-back tournaments in Bangkok in January of 2021, skeptics were proclaiming that he was not as good as advertised. Lee figured the best way to shut up the doubters was to win, and he did exactly that in the 2021 All England final.
Facing the same opponent, the same score as last year’s All England semi-final, Lee Zii Jia of Malaysia was called for net fault again at the 19th points in the decider against World No. 2 Viktor Axelsen of Denmark.
The difference was, this time, Lee 19 was leading at 19-7 in the decider of the 2021 All England final, instead of 19-19 in the decider of last year’s tense semi-final.
The first game was brutal, as the deathless first game bloated into 20-20, it became a test of maturity and greater emotional and mental control on the court between the two. The score was leveled 9 times at 21-21, 22-22, 23-23, 24-24, 25-25, 26-26, 27-27, 28-28, 29-29, before Lee’s net shot forcing a lift from Axelsen that gone out of bound to allow Lee to bag the grueling nail biter with sudden death point of 30-29.
Lee had a handsome lead at 18-14 in the second set, however, Axelsen kept his calm, kept pushing shuttlecock to Lee’s right baseline to reel off 5 consecutive points to lead at 19-18, and took the second game 22-20.
The Malaysian quickly shrugged off a slow start in the decider, playing good defense and strong attacks to lead at 4-3. Lee continued his momentum, and never looked back to go on to win the 2021 All England with 21-9 in the decider. The whole men’s singles final match lasted 74 minutes, it was the longest final in this year’s All England.
It has been 4 years since a Malaysian player took home the All England title after the Malaysian badminton legend Lee Chong Wei won his fourth and last All England in 2017.