KUALA LUMPUR: On-form Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin (pic) is determined to win a place in the Podium Programme.
The 25-year-old shuttler will get a chance to state his case when the new season starts with the Malaysian Masters in Sibu, Sarawak from Jan 17-22.
Iskandar has improved by leaps and bounds since the Malaysian Masters in Penang in January this year when he reached his first-ever final before bowing out to Lee Chong Wei.
And the national No. 2 singles player wants to get off to another good start next year.
“The turning point in my career was at the Malaysian Masters. I was ranked 150th in the world before the tournament but now I will end the year in 23rd spot,” said Iskandar.
“There have been much progress but I want to raise the bar. Hopefully, another consistent year will help me get into the Podium Programme.”
The players under the programme are world No. 1 Chong Wei, Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong, Vivian Hoo-Woon Khe Wei and Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying.
Iskandar said he aims to reach the world’s top 10 next year as targeted by national coach Hendrawan.
“The old Iskandar would have thought that this target is impossible ... but not now. I believe I can achieve it,” he said.
“I’ll have to make changes though. I need to work on my physical condition and improve on my skills.
“I want to be a more dangerous player on court and stay consistent too.
“I reached my first Superseries semi-finals in China this year and hopefully I can achieve better result on a regular basis.”
With Chong Wei likely to pick and choose his tournaments next year, hopes are high on Iskandar to win honours for the country.
The other singles players in the national team are Soo Teck Zhi (world No. 82), Soong Joo Ven (85), Lim Chi Wing (125), Chong Yee Han (146), R. Satheishtharan (151), Cheam June Wei (213), Lee Zii Jia (243), Tan Jia Wei (301) and Yeoh Seng Zoe (447).