PETALING JAYA: National men’s singles head coach Hendrawan defended Lim Chong King following his poor performance at the Spanish International Challenge last week.
The 21-year-old was expected to do better after his first-round exit at the Polish Open in March, but he would flop yet again with another early defeat in La Nucia.
Chong King went down tamely 17-21, 15-21 to world No. 190 Jan Louda of the Czech Republic, who went on to emerge runner-up to world No. 54 Pablo Abian of Spain.
But it’s worth noting that Chong King had started the match in fresher condition compared to Louda, as the latter had to navigate through three match qualifiers in the span of 24 hours to reach the main draw.
It marked Chong King’s second defeat in as many tournaments this year to a lower-ranked European opponent.
In Poland, he was beaten by Daniel Nikolov of Bulgaria.
Still, Hendrawan has plenty of faith in world No. 160 Chong King.
“It’s not about the matter of nationality, but he (Louda) did make it all the way to the final,” said Hendrawan, implying that Chong King had lost to a better opponent.
“All players have their ups and downs, it’s just part of the process.
“With more training, better preparation and staying focused on his goals, he will come back stronger from this setback.”
While Chong King is still very much a work in progress, much is expected from the youngster who first rose to prominence in 2019.
After making the semi-finals of the Malaysian International Series, then head coach Datuk Misbun Sidek even compared him to “a young Lee Chong Wei”.
He also made two finals that year, winning the Hellas Open in Greece and coming in runner-up at the Sydney International Series in Australia.