KUALA LUMPUR: Lucknow is fast turning into a happy hunting ground for Malaysian singles shuttlers Zulfadli Zulkiffli and Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin.
There’s no luck involved though, just pure skill and determination, as the duo turned the formbook upside down to power into the quarter-finals of the India Open Grand Prix Gold tournament in Lucknow on Thursday.
World No. 62 Zulfadli scored his biggest career win when he dumped top seed and India’s top player and world No. 18, P. Kashyap 21-16, 21-12.
Iskandar, currently ranked 67th in the world, was also on cloud nine yesterday after knocking out India’s world 33rd ranked Anand Pawar 22-20, 21-11.
On Friday, Zulfadli and Iskandar will take on H. S. Prannoy and Aditya Prakash from India for places in the semi-finals.
Aditya, who is currently the No. 1 junior player in the Badminton World Federation’s (BWF) ranking, ended the gallant run of Goh Soon Huat yesterday, upsetting the Malaysian with a 21-19, 14-21, 21-13 win.
The 20-year-old Zulfadli, an independent player, said that the win would be a great boost in his aspiration to win the right to represent the country in major tournaments this year.
“I was totally focused today against the top seed. I made fewer errors while my opponents committed many mistakes. I took advantage of his shaky situation to go all out for a win,” said Zulfadli in an interview on Thursday.
“It is a rare feat for me to beat a top seed ... I am truly very happy. The win also showed that my dream to make it big in the sport is still on.
“I am still harbouring hopes to win titles this year and win a chance to represent the country in major events.”
Malaysia’s challenge is also alive in the women’s competition when Tee Jing Yi and reigning SEA Games doubles champions Woon Khe Wei-Vivian Hoo checked into the quarter-finals.