PETALING JAYA: After spending all of 2020 twiddling his thumbs, independent shuttler Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin just can’t wait to get his competitive juices flowing again.
The 28-year-old, whose last competitive match was in November 2019, wants to get cracking when the international circuit resumes in August.
Iskandar plans to sign up for two fifth-tier World Tour events – the Hyderabad Open from Aug 11-16 and Lingshui China Masters from Aug 25-30 – where he made it to semi-finals last year.
“I saw the revamped calendar and I thought these two events in August are actually a little bit too early, ” said the world No. 90.
“First, I don’t know whether it’s going to be safe or whether we are allowed to travel again. Secondly, we also unsure when we’re able return to training.
“But if all goes well, I’ll surely play in Hyderabad and Lingshui. I’ve got to take part in both because I have to try match my semi-final achievement last year, or my rankings will drop.”
Iskandar’s last international tournament was his first-round loss at the fourth-tier Syed Modi International in India.
“It’s been six months since I played there. By August, it would be almost eight months, ” said the Li Ning-backed player.
“There were not many (tournament) options early this year. I was late in submitting my entry for the Thailand Masters and was supposed to play the Lingshui China Masters (initially Feb 25-March 1) but it was postponed due to Covid-19.
Iskandar, the 2009 world and Asian junior runner-up, is still struggling to find his footing since turning professional in late 2018.
His best achievement was winning the Russian International Challenge in July last year.
Meanwhile, Iskandar’s teammate at Sports Affairs academy Soong Joo Ven is also game for an early restart at the Hyderabad Open.
The 24-year-old was the runner-up in the tournament two years ago.
“I think I’m going to register for that, but I will first discuss it with my coach. My sponsor would like me to start competing too, ” said the Apacs-backed Joo Ven.
“Although issues like when we get to train again is uncertain yet, I’m happy that at least now I have something to look forward to.
“If I were to compete in Hyderabad, it will be my first start as a professional. I’m curious how it will turn out!”
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