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Wednesday January 16, 2013

Youngster Zulfadli finally gets to play in main draw


THERE was a big smile on Zulfadli Zulkifli’s face after the former world junior champion made a breakthrough by qualifying for the main draw of the Maybank Malaysian Open at the Putra Stadium in Bukit Jalil Tuesday.

It will be the 19-year-old’s first appearance in the tournament proper of his home Open. Zulfadli, who won the world junior title two years ago, did not compete in last year’s qualifying tournament as he was ranked a lowly 124th in the world. His only notable result was making the main draw of the French Open in October.

Yesterday, Zulfadli won both his qualifying matches with ease. In the first round, he defeated India’s B. Sai Praneeth 21-18, 21-18 before stepping up a gear to power past Hong Kong’s Wei Nan 21-13, 21-11.

Zulfadli is now looking forward to today’s first round encounter against England’s Rajiv Ouseph.

“I’m really happy because this is the first time I’m going to play in the main draw of the Malaysian Open. It’s also a significant improvement, following my French Open experience,” said Zulfadli.

“I’m really pleased with my performances in both matches as I controlled my opponents and made them follow my rhythm.

“I’m also in great condition, with all those injury problems behind me. As I’m no longer competing in junior meets, I’ve been putting more efforts into my physical training.

“Now I just want to carry on with my great form and try to beat Rajiv. He’s a tough player who is strong mentally and physically, so I need to match him there,” added Zulfadli.

There was, however, no joy for national champion Misbun Ramdan Misbun. He was humiliated 21-15, 21-16 by Chinese youngster Chen Yuekun in the first qualifying round.

In the men’s doubles, the professional combination of Mohd Razif Abdul Latif-Vountus Indra Mawan and national back-up pair Low Juan Shen-Tan Yip Jiun made the main draw by beating their compatriots.

“Our partnership is still quite new and thus we’re happy to make the main draw in our first Malaysian Open as a pair,” said Juan Shen.

Juan Shen-Yip Jiun will take on China’s Qiu Zihan-Zhang Nan in the first round today.

Junior Ho Yen Mei also showed her potential by qualifying for the main draw of the women’s singles and doubles with Yap Rui Chen.


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