PETALING JAYA: Being left out of the Thomas Cup qualifying squad has only made youngster Leong Jun Hao stronger.
And the 19-year-old continued to show his determination when he produced another sizzling performance at the Thailand Masters yesterday by defeating fourth seed and world No. 35 Hu Yun of Hong Kong 21-15, 20-22, 21-7 to reach the men’s singles semi-finals in Bangkok.
The Asian junior champion will take on Kantaphon Wangcharoen of Thailand for a place in the final.
Last week, the world No. 215 Jun Hao failed to make the selection for the Asia Team Badminton Championships in Alor Setar, Kedah, from Feb 6-11.
The Asian meet serves as the qualifers for the Thomas Cup Finals in Bangkok, Thailand, from May 20-27.
The Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) named Lee Chong Wei, Lee Zii Jia, Soong Joo Ven and Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin for the Asian meet last week.
Said Jun Hao: “I was not selected but it’s OK. This is only my first year in the senior team.
“I have missed the cut for the Asian qualifiers but I want to prove myself to earn a place in the squad for the Thomas Cup Finals. I’ll keep fighting in every tournament,” he said.
Jun Hao came within a whisker of stopping the 36-year-old Hu Yun in straight games but the world junior championships runner-up made some simple mistakes in his eagerness to win.
“Fortunately, I got it right in the rubber game. I engaged Hu Yun in long rallies and that slowed him down halfway through the match.
“I’m glad to reach my first semi-final in a big tournament here.
“It’ll be tricky against my next opponent. I’ve not played against the Thai but I’ll give my best.”
Former Thomas Cupper Liew Daren also made it to the semi-finals after disposing of Suppanyu Avihingsanon of Thailand 21-15, 21-18 to set up a match against Tommy Sugiarto of Indonesia.
Malaysia did well in other events too when Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong, Soniia Cheah, S. Kisona, Chow Mei Kuan-Lee Meng Yean, Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying and Chen Tang Jie-Peck Yen Wei checked into the semi-finals of the men’s doubles, women’s singles, women’s doubles and mixed doubles respectively.
The only casualties yesterday were Teo Ee Yi and Ong Yew Sin when they crashed out in the men’s doubles quarter-finals after losing 19-21, 11-21 to Wahyu Nayaka Arya Pangkaryanira-Ade Yusuf Santoso of Indonesia.