GEORGE TOWN: Shuttler Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin was jumping in joy but Zulfadli Zulkiffli was left in tears at the Malaysian Masters.
A pumped-up Iskandar continued his fantastic run when he upstaged world No. 30 Xue Song of China 21-17, 18-21, 21-12 to reach the quarter-finals at the SPICE Arena in Relau.
He is the only Malaysian to join national No. 1 Lee Chong Wei in the men’s singles last eight. Iskandar will take on Hong Kong’s rising star Angus Ng Ka Long for a place in the semi-finals while Chong Wei, who dumped Derek Wong of Singapore 21-10, 21-10, will face Ajay Jayaram of India.
Iskandar, who had ousted Anthony Ginting of Indonesia 21-18, 21-13 in the second round, was happy to come through the early rounds.
“I finished my second-round match after midnight and today I had to play early. It was quite tough but I recovered well,” said Iskandar.
“Xue Song was solid in defence and I really had to dig deep to win. Mentally, I was stronger today.
“I am determined to go one level higher in my career this year. I want to prove myself,” said the 24-year-old Iskandar.
Independent shuttler Zulfadli, Goh Soon Huat and Soo Teck Zhi all crashed out in the third round.
For Zulfadli, the defeat was a bitter pill to swallow.
The 22-year-old was on the brink of victory but squandered a nine-point lead in the decider before going down 21-11, 8-21, 20-22 to India’s Ajay Jayaram.
He had raced to a commanding 18-10 lead in the decider. And it all went wrong after he questioned a line call and lost his composure. He then went on to take a 20-11 lead but allowed the Indian to stage a remarkable comeback to clinch a dramatic win.
In the men’s doubles, veterans Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong stayed steady to check into the quarter-finals after a 21-12, 21-18 win over Lee Jhe-huei-Lee Yang of Taiwan. They will next meet Japan’s Hiroyuki Saeki-Ryota Taohata.
Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong also reached the last eight. They will also face Japanese rivals, taking on Takeshi Kamura-Keigo Sonoda.
Malaysia’s interest in the women’s competition came to an end with the surprise defeat of eighth seeds Woon Khe Wei-Vivian Hoo. The national No. 1 lost 10-21, 19-21 to unheralded Du Yue-Li Yinhui of China.
In the mixed doubles, Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying and Tan Kian Meng-Lai Pei Jing continued to keep the Jalur Gemilang flying.