KUALA LUMPUR: National No. 2 Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin (pic) plans to use the back-to-back Sudirman Cup and Thailand Open as a “warm up” to the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games from Aug 19-30.
The Sudirman Cup starts in Gold Coast, Australia, tomorrow while the Thailand Open is from May 30-June 4. These two are his first two tournaments in five months.
Iskandar, who has been chosen to lead the badminton team at the biennial Games, has not competed in any tournament since the Macau Open in November because of a back injury.
“All my preparations now are geared for me to peak at the KL Games,” said Iskandar.
“Malaysia won the gold at the last SEA Games (through Chong Wei Feng in Singapore in 2015) ... I want to keep it in Malaysia.
“But it will depend on my condition in the next two tournaments. I may not get many opportunities in the Sudirman Cup because Lee Chong Wei and Lee Zii Jia are there too.”
The others competing in the world mixed team tournament are Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong, Ong Yew Sin-Teo Ee Yi (men’s doubles); Goh Jin Wei, Soniia Cheah (women’s singles); Vivian Hoo-Woon Khe Wei, Chow Mei Kuan-Lee Meng Yean (women’s doubles); and Tan Kian Meng-Lai Pei Jing, Chan Peng Soon and Cheah Yee See (mixed doubles).
“But to get to play even in one match is good enough. I just want to get that tournament feeling back,” said Iskandar.
“I didn’t touch the racquet for three months because of my back injury, so I’m just excited to finally be back.”
At the second-tier Thailand Open Grand Prix Gold, world No. 35 Iskandar has been seeded ninth and is drawn to play India’s Harsheel Dani.
If he wins, he will meet either India’s R.M.V. Gurusaidutt or Panji Ahmad Maulana of Indonesia.
The others in his half are top seed Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk of Thailand, B. Sai Praneeth of India, Sony Dwi Kuncoro and Ihsan Maulana Mustofa of Indonesia; and Malaysians Lim Chi Wing, Tan Chun Seang and R. Satheishtharan.
Second seed Marc Zwiebler of Germany is in the lower half of the draw with Indonesia’s Jonatan Christie and Malaysians Soong Joo Ven, Liew Daren and the Zulkiffli brothers – Zulfadli and Zulhelmi.