PETALING JAYA: Malaysian professional shuttler Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin believes he has finally put a rough start to the new year behind him.
Despite his 9-21, 22-20, 16-21 semi-final loss to homester Liu Haichao at the Lingshui China Masters yesterday, Iskandar was in high spirits after securing his best result in five starts this year.
Prior to this tournament, the former World Youth Championships silver medallist suffered early exits in all the tournaments he competed in – the Malaysian Masters, Indonesian Masters, Spanish Masters and German Open – and paid a heavy price as he fell from No. 79 to No. 125 in the world rankings.
“Although I lost, I’m happy with my performance. Reaching the semi-finals is a good result and I must maintain this form,” said the 27-year-old who quit the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) last November.
“The first few months after leaving BAM were difficult. I was struggling with my rhythm and form.
“Hopefully with my confidence restored, there’s more to come after this.”
Iskandar is definitely more settled now that he has secured the much-needed sponsorships from sportswear company Li Ning and online sports store Sportsclick.
“I need to start delivering not only for myself but also to repay the sponsors’ faith in me. They believe I can still go far, so I must not let them down.”
Iskandar also cited the great camaraderie among the Malaysian pro shuttlers as one of the factors that helped him to do well this week.
“I got plenty of support from them in China. (Chong) Wei Feng acted as my coach, while (Tan) Boon Heong and Andrew (Chooi Kah Ming) also gave me lots of encouragement,” added Iskandar, who’s next tournament is the Vietnam International Challenge.
Kah Ming-Low Juan Shen and Boon Heong, who partnered South Korea’s Kim Sa-rang, were also in action this week but their campaigns ended in the quarter-finals on Friday.
Kah Ming-Juan Shen were defeated 14-21, 16-21 by China’s Di Zijian-Wang Chang while Boon Heong-Sa-rang lost 17-21, 21-16, 16-21 to Taiwan’s Lee Jhe-huei-Yang Po-hsuan.
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