National singles shuttler Chong Wei Feng (left) who pulled out of the Malaysian Open GP Gold final in March, is expected to deliver in the second singles during the Thomas Cup in India next week.
PETALING JAYA: National No. 2 Chong Wei Feng is relishing the challenge of playing a key role as Malaysia’s second singles shuttler when the Thomas Cup Finals gets under way in New Delhi from May 18-25.
The 26-year-old joined the team two years ago at the last edition in Wuhan but was limited to a reserve role. Wei Feng was then the country’s fourth-ranked player behind Lee Chong Wei, Liew Daren and Muhd Hafiz Hashim.
Then, he did not feature in the group matches but played the third singles against Chen Jin in the quarter-final clash with eventual champions China, following Chong Wei’s injury in the last group match against Denmark.
Malaysia lost 3-0 to China.
In New Delhi, Wei Feng is set to be handed a daunting task as the second singles, which is the crucial third match of a tie. It could potentially seal a victory should Malaysia be leading 2-0, while it could also help stage a fightback if they are trailing by a similar scoreline.
It is a heavy responsibility that Wei Feng is well aware of.
“This Thomas Cup is massive for me, I’m ready for the challenge and I’d like to make it count,” said the world No. 27.
“Although I had made the team in Wuhan two years ago, I was merely a reserve player.
“This time, things will be different as I know I’ll certainly be playing and I am expected to deliver a point from the second singles.”
Wei Feng, who was a China Open semi-finalist last year, said things are getting better for him since his disastrous performance at last year’s Myanmar SEA Games. He was the top seed for the regional Games but fell at the first hurdle to A. Suppanyu of Thailand.
Wei Feng also endured a frustrating start this year, being ousted in the first round of three of the five tournaments he competed in – the Malaysian Open, Korean Open and Indian Open.
His best outing this year was at the Malaysian Open Grand Prix Gold in Johor in March, where he went as far as the semi-finals before conceding a walkover due to injury.
Despite dropping from No. 14 to No. 27 in the world rankings, Wei Feng insists his confidence has improved ahead of the Thomas Cup.
“I didn’t have a good start, but things have improved in recent months. I’ll just have to keep it going and remain positive,” he added.
“I certainly hope to do well in New Delhi, and play my part to help the team go as far as possible. Hopefully we’ll achieve the semi-final target set by BAM (Badminton Association of Malaysia).”
Other players in the singles department are world No. 1 Chong Wei, Daren and debutant Goh Soon Huat.
Malaysia are in Group C with South Korea, Germany and India.