Bin Shen wants Haikal-Arif to play in higher-level tourneys

Gelling well: Wan Arif Wan Junaidi (right) and Mohd Haikal Nazri did good in their Games debut.

PETALING JAYA: Men’s doubles coach Tan Bin Shen thinks it is the right time for Mohd Haikal Nazri-Wan Arif Wan Junaidi to step up.

And he wants them to compete in higher-level tournaments and the pair will get the opportunity to do so at the Indonesian Masters (June 7-12) in Jakarta after a promising debut in the SEA Games.

The tournament in Indonesia will be world 80th ranked Haikal-Arif’s first Super 500 level competition.

“This is the first step. Hopefully, with their current ranking, they can enter more Super 300 and 500 level tournaments,” said Bin Shen.

In the SEA Games, Haikal-Arif gave Indonesia’s Asian champions and top seeds Pramudya Kusumawardana-Yeremia Rambitan a run for their money before bowing out in the first round of the individual event. Despite the early exit, Bin Shen is looking at the positives.

“This is their first time playing against world class opponents who just won the Asian Championships. They gave a good fight and we now know what is needed to get them closer to world-class standards,” explained Bin Shen.

Before the individual event, the pair kept their nerves to clinch the winning point in the team event against Vietnam in the opening match.

In the semi-finals against Singapore, Haikal was impressive when he partnered mixed doubles specialist Chen Tang Jie to deliver a point for the team against the experienced Danny Chrisnanta-Andy Kwek.“Their overall performance was satisfactory. The SEA Games is a big tournament for them because so far they have only played in International Challenges and Super 100 level competitions.

“I think they really gained experience on how to handle pressure,” added Bin Shen.

“Physically, they still need to improve on their speed and power. Experience-wise, they need to understand how the top players manage their game plan in matches. Once these are sorted out, I want them to start beating the big names in tournaments.”

In Jakarta, Haikal and Arif are pitted in the qualifying round against China’s Liang Wei Keng-Wang Chang. If they get past the hurdle, they will meet Japan’s 52nd ranked Hiroki Okamura-Masayuki Onodera in the tournament proper.

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