KUALA LUMPUR: National men’s doubles shuttlers Mohd Fairuzizuan Mohd Tazari-Mohd Zakry Abdul Latif may be the second ranked pair in the country but that does not guarantee them a place in the squad for the Thomas Cup Finals.
Last year, the duo ended the year without any titles – putting a dent to their credibility as the country’s second best pair behind Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong.
Currently, several back-up pairs are not only breathing down their necks, but are hoping to dislodge the seniors for a place in the Thomas Cup squad.
But Fairuzizuan and Zakry are not going to take the challenge lying down.
They are determined to regain their confidence with a good showing in the Malaysian Open, which will begin at the Putra Stadium in Bukit Jalil from Jan 19-24.
“We want to make the Thomas Cup squad by justifying our status as the second best pair in the country. So, it is important for us to do well in three Open tournaments, starting with the Malaysian Open,” said Fairuzizuan.
They will also be competing in the back-to-back All-England and Swiss Open in March.
“We did quite all right at the World Championships in India (semi-finals) but we struggled in other tournaments last year. It would have been nice to wrap up the season with at least one title,” said Fairuzizuan.
“This time, we are really focused in training. The Super Series Masters Finals (in Johor Baru last month) showed that we needed to improve on our physical fitness. We are trying to maintain a healthier lifestyle this year.”
At the Malaysian Open, the duo will take on Americans Howard Bach-Tony Gunawan in the opening round and the match could go either way.
In their same half are second seeds Jung Jae-sung-Lee Yong-dae of South Korea, Indonesians Alven Yulianto-Hendra Gunawan, China’s Guo Zhengdong-Xi Chen and three Malaysians – back-up pair Lim Khim Wah-Chan Peng Soon and veterans Choong Tan Fook-Lee Wan Wah, Chan Chong Ming-Chew Choon Eng.
In the top half with Kien Keat-Boon Heong are Indonesians Markis Kido-Hendra Setiawan, Yonathan Suryatama Dasuki-Rian Sukmawan and England’s Anthony Clark-Nathan Robertson.
Malaysia last won the doubles title through Kien Keat-Boon Heong in 2007.