Ramdan one step away from Thomas Cup

KUALA LUMPUR: Former national champion Misbun Ramdan Misbun is just one step away from following in the footsteps of his famous father and uncles by going to the Thomas Cup Finals.

On Monday, the 23-year-old Ramdan edged closer to the dream when his first opponent Zulfadli Zulkiffli failed to show up for the selection trials at the Juara Stadium in Bukit Kiara.

It is learnt that former world junior champion Zulfadli, who injured his knee during the Malaysian Open Grand Prix Gold in Pasir Gudang, is still struggling to regain his form.

Ramdan will take on Goh Soon Huat on Tuesday and the winner will join world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei, Chong Wei Feng and Liew Daren as the fourth member of the singles squad to the Thomas Cup Finals in New Delhi from May 18-25.

Soon Huat was the winner of the first selection trials last month after beating former internationals Tan Chun Seang and Mohd Arif Abdul Latif. Ramdan did not participate in that selection trials as he was ill then.

Ramdan, the son of Misbun – the eldest of the Sidek brothers, was happy to be given a second chance and said he is determined to realise his childhood dream of featuring in the Thomas Cup.

Misbun and his four brothers – Jalani, Razif, Rashid and Rahman – have all played in the Thomas Cup Finals, albeit in different years. Rashid was the last Sidek to feature in a Finals at the 2000 Kuala Lumpur edition.

“My father has played in the Thomas Cup Finals (in the 1980s), and all my uncles have had a taste of it too. All my life, I have heard them sharing their experiences,” he said.

“Now, it is my turn. The opportunity is here and I would like to go for it.”

Ramdan however, gave due respect to his opponent, 2013 Malaysian Open Grand Prix Gold runner-up Soon Huat, saying: “I have beaten him once at the Malaysian Open (qualifying tournament in January) but the score will tell that it was a close match. I won 24-22, 22-20 and I expect another tough match.”

Since leaving the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) last January, world No. 48 Ramdan has won five international titles - Romanian International (2014), Portuguese International (2013), Slovenia International (2013), Greece International (2013) and Irish Open (2013).

The lanky Ramdan said he enjoys training under his father.

“He is a task master but fortunately, I have not fainted due to his tough training yet. I have suffered cramps many times but I still enjoy the training. I have improved but I still need to work on my fitness, power and overall movements on court.

“I have given myself another year or two to make a breakthrough. I hope to win honours for the nation - just like my father and uncles and also like Lee Chong Wei,” added Ramdan.

Thanks to the guidance of Misbun, who was a former national coach and mentor, Chong Wei went on to win the country’s first Olympic Games silver medal in the singles event at the Beijing Games in 2008.