Thursday, 27 March 2014 | MYT 8:22 PM
Going pro suits Indonesia’s Simon
Simon Santoso beat fifth seed Song Xue of China 21-12, 21-15 in the third round of the Malaysia Open Grand Prix Gold.
PASIR GUDANG: Indonesia’s former top men’s singles shuttler Simon Santoso turned professional in a bid to come out of his badminton career rut.
On Thursday, the 28-year-old Simon showed that it was indeed the right move for him when he stormed into the quarter-finals of the Malaysia Open Grand Prix Gold at the Pasir Gudang Municipal Stadium.
Simon defeated India’s Aditya Prakash 21-17, 21-10 in the second round and went on to beat fifth seed Song Xue of China 21-12, 21-15 in the third round to prove that he still has not lost his touch.
Buoyed by the win, he is all fired up to go all the way to win the men’s singles title.
“I turned professional in January after 10 years with the national team (All-Indonesia Badminton Association). I wanted a change after hitting a plateau in my career,” said Simon.
“I was ranked third in the world at one stage but stagnated in the national team for various reasons. A back injury stalled my progress.
“Having to fend for myself may just do the trick to rejuvenate my badminton career. I still love the sport very much,” said Simon, whose best recent achievement was winning the Indonesia Open GP Gold last year.
He said that he faces less pressure as an independent player.
“I am training under Hendri Saputra right now and there is less pressure. I am in better condition too. It is important to enjoy oneself while playing. I am more relaxed now,” he said.
“The men’s singles competition is still wide open. Except for world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei and Chen Long of China, the standard of the others is about the same. I still have a chance to spice up the competition.”
When asked whether he was still harbuoring hopes of representing the country at the Thomas Cup Finals in May in New Delhi, Simon said: “I will never turn down national duty. It is up to the national team. For now, I just want to go on winning titles again,” he added.
Simon will next take on Malaysian Soo Teck Zhi, who defeated team-mate Mohd Arif Abdul Latif 21-12, 21-15 on Thursday.