Hon Jian-Haikal out to be Masters of Orleans as giants will be at All-England

Setting bolder targets: Men’s doubles pair Choong Hon Jian (left) and Mohd Haikal Nazri in action at the Asia Team Championships recently.

PETALING JAYA: Men’s doubles shuttler Mohd Haikal Nazri has set his sights on capturing the Orleans Masters title along with Choong Hon Jian.

With the world’s top pairs competing in the All-England (March 12-17) in Birmingham which clashes with the Orleans tourney in France, Haikal is optimistic of his chances of going all the way with Hon Jian.

Hon Jian-Haikal are the fourth highest ranked pair in the competition at No. 39 behind Germany’s world No. 29 Mark Lamsfuss-Marvin Seidel, Denmark’s Daniel Lundgaard-Mads Vestergaard (No. 35) and Thailand’s Pharanyu Kaosamaang-Worrapol Thongsanga (No. 37).

Based on the draw, Hon Jian-Haikal will not face any of the higher ranked pairs until the last four where they could meet Lamsfuss-Seidel.

“I’m aiming to win the title in Orleans with Hon Jian,” said Haikal, after a training session at the Academy Badminton Malaysia (ABM) in Bukit Kiara yesterday.

“Looking at the draw, there is an opportunity for us. Our preparations have been going well and we want to go all out.”

Haikal and Hon Jian were only combined last August following a partnership reshuffle and went on to capture the back-to-back Syed Modi International and Indian Masters titles at the end of the year.

The duo were hoping to build on their promising showing but suffered a second-round exit in the Indonesian Masters last month before Haikal was floored by a left ankle injury in the Thailand Masters.

Haikal, though, recovered in time for the Asia Team Championships and was part of the team that finished runners-up.

The 21-year-old is now looking to impress the coaches with the 23-year-old Hon Jian and earn a spot in the prestigious Thomas Cup Finals from April 27-May 5 in Chengdu.

Haikal-Hon Jian will also compete in the Swiss Open from March 19-24 in Basel.

“I’ve never played in the Thomas Cup before and I hope to be selected this time with Hon Jian,” said Haikal.

“But there is strong competition in the squad as everyone wants to play in the Thomas Cup.

“We need to do well in both these tournaments (Orleans Masters and Swiss Open) to stand a chance of getting the nod.”

The other pairs who will be vying with Hon Jian-Haikal to get on the plane to Chengdu are Ong Yew Sin-Teo Ee Yi (No. 12), Man Wei Chong-Tee Kai Wun (No. 18) and Goh Sze Fei-Nur Izzuddin Rumsani (No. 19).

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