KUALA LUMPUR: Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin is pumped up to make a strong comeback at next month’s Thailand Open.
The 25-year-old shuttler has yet to play this season after being hampered by a back injury. But he has been given the clearance to feature in the second-tier Grand Prix Gold tournament in Bangkok from May 30-June 4.
“The last few months have been difficult for me. The doctors found a fracture on my backbone. I’ve gone through treatment diligently and I’m able to play now,” said Iskandar.
“I could’ve picked up the injury because of my style of play. I’m tall and sometimes I overstretch myself during a match. I’m also slightly hunched. I’m making adjustments now.
“My final appointment with the doctor is on May 12 but I’m confident of getting a clean bill of health.”
Iskandar, who injured his back last December, returned to full-time training at the Academy Badminton Malaysia (ABM) in Bukit Kiara last week.
“The injury has slowed me down. I had a good year in 2015 and was riding on the momentum in 2016 before the injury. I need to catch up and improve on my world ranking again,” said Iskandar, the 2015 Malaysian Open Grand Prix runner-up.
He was ranked a career-best No. 23 at the end of 2016, thanks to his semi-final appearances at the China and Taiwan Opens.
Besides improving his ranking, Iskandar’s other priority is to compete in the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games from Aug 19-30.
“I want to do well in Bangkok to enhance my chances. I’m focused on making the cut for my first SEA Games,” said Iskandar.
In the absence of world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei, the hope is on Iskandar to clinch the men’s singles gold in the biennial Games.
Chong Wei is skipping the Games to concentrate on the World Championships in Glasgow, Scotland, from Aug 23-27.
The others vying for the other men’s singles spots at the Games are Chong Wei Feng, Zulfadli Zulkifli, Lee Zii Jia, Lim Chi Wing, R. Satheishtharan and Tan Jia Wei.