MALAYSIANS enjoyed a great day in the Asian junior championships boys’ singles event with promising star Zulfadli Zulkifli and four others marching into the fourth round yesterday.
The others remaining to carry their challenges are Bukit Jalil Sports School’s (BJSS) Loh Wei Sheng, Goh Giap Chin, Lim Yu Sheng and Mohd Azriyn Nur Ayub.
And their encouraging performances have raised Malaysia’s hopes to end an elusive chase for the Asian Juniors’ boys’ singles title.
Zulfadli was in good form yesterday and he eliminated two Koreans.
He laboured for a 21-17, 13-21, 21-12 win over Korean top junior Kang Ji-wook in the second round and went on to oust unseeded Lee Hong-je, winning the third-round match 21-6, 21-18.
“It is great that five Malaysians are still in contention in the tournament. Hopefully, we will continue with our domination,” said Zulfadli, an independent player under the sponsorship of KLRC.
Zulfadli will take on Azriyn for a place in the quarter-finals. It will be a tricky match for Zulfadli as he was beaten by Azriyn in a local tournament last year.
The 17-year-old Azriyn advanced to the fourth round with a sensational 21-12, 21-19 win over Indonesia’s experienced shuttler Hermanshah. Yu Sheng and Giap Chin also pulled off upset wins. Yu Sheng defeated fifth-eighth seed Huang Chao of Singapore 12-21, 21-15, 23-21 in the third round while Giap Chin slogged for a a 17-21, 21-10, 21-18 win over ninth-16th seed Lee Chun Hei of Hong Kong.
Yu Sheng will take on Hong Kong’s Ng Ka Long today while Giap Chin plays against Sukamta Evert of Indonesia.
It was also a good day for Malaysia’s second ranked junior Wei Sheng when he put up a great fight to beat Rhustavito Shehar Hiren of Indonesia 27-25, 21-17 to set up a match against Kim Min-ki of South Korea.
BJSS’ Tew Gee Chong could have made it a perfect day for Malaysia but he went down fighting 21-17, 11-21, 15-21 to India’s B. Sai Praneet.
Team manager Hau Kim Tho gave special mention to the efforts of Giap Chin, Yu Sheng and Azriyn.
“They were the underdogs but pulled the rugs from the more fancied players. They showed great fighting spirit and it augurs well for the team,” he said.
“We came very close to winning the title last year. We had three singles players in the semi-finals but failed to win the title (China’s Tian Houwei beat Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin in the final). There is a chance to nail it this time and we hope our players don’t run out of steam.”