KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia have been short of new talents in the men’s singles department for ages.
Things look set to change following yesterday’s results in the Asian Junior Championships when four boys entered the quarter-finals of the singles event with Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin, Mohd Syawal Ismail and Misbun Ramdan Misbun coming out triumphant to reach the semi-finals.
And 16-year-old Zulfadli Zulkifli could have made it a really glorious day for Malaysian badminton if only he had got the better of China’s top junior Tian Houwei. A lack of stamina and experience saw him going down fighting before losing 21-23, 16-12 in the 50-minute battle.
Earlier, all four had made it a historic day for the nation when they checked into the quarter-finals.
Malaysia never had four boys’ singles players in the last eight of the championships.
Top seed Iskandar will take on Ramdan today, ensuring one place in the final while Syawal could make it an all-Malaysian affair in the final if he can take down Houwei.
Yesterday, Iskandar was the first to check into the last four but he almost muffed it after struggling to find his form in the first game against Pisit Poodchalat of Thailand.
He was slower than usual against the Thai. But spurred on by the home fans, he got back into the groove to knock out Pisit in a 16-21, 21-13, 21-12 win.
“I am happy to make it to the semi-finals for the first time. I was nervous and my hand was stiff in the first game but fortunately I got back my rhythm,” said Iskandar.