PETALING JAYA: Zulfadli Zulkifli is one step away from making his dream come true after storming into the boys’ singles semi-finals at the Asian Junior badminton championships in Lucknow, India, yesterday.
The 18-year-old KLRC shuttler, who lost two out of the three matches he played in the mixed team event, powered past China’s Xue Song 21-16, 23-21 in the third round.
He then turned on the style to crush local hope Joshi Pratul 21-15, 21-9 in the last eight in just 31 minutes.
Zulfadli’s path to the final has also been made easier after defending champion Huang Yuxiang – the same player he lost to in the mixed team final on Tuesday, crashed to a surprising 13-21, 21-19, 17-21 to Japan’s Kento Momota in the third round.
Momota went on to beat Hong Kong’s Angus Ng 21-10, 19-21, 21-11 to set up a semi-final clash with Zulfadli.
However, it was all over for Asian Juniors debutant Soong Joo Vern, who crashed out in the third round.
“Momota has done Zulfadli a huge favour by taking out Yuxiang ... the cards are certainly in Zulfadli’s favour,” said BAM junior athletes development coordinator How Kim Tho.
“But he should know better than to underestimate Momota, who is very talented and has been playing well here so far.”
There was more joy for Malaysia when reigning world junior doubles champions Nelson Heg-Teo Ee Yi also qualified for the semi-finals.
Nelson-Ee Yi outclassed China’s Liu Junhui-Guo Kaiyi 21-13, 21-14 in the third round before packing off Hong Kong’s Tam Chun Hei-Chang Tak Ching 21-17, 21-12 in just 21 minutes.
But Tai An Kang- Jani Sant Enos failed to make the grade after they were beaten 11-21, 18-21 by Indonesians Alexander Ronald-Geh Selvanus in the third round.
It was also all over for Malaysia in the girls’ singles and mixed doubles, with Sonia Cheah and Nelson-Chow Mei Kuan crashing out in the quarter-finals.