KUALA LUMPUR: Independent singles shuttler Zulfadli Zulkiffli has his international assignments all planned out for the next two months.
And he is on a wing and a prayer that it will not clash with Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM)’s selection trial for the Thomas Cup Finals in May in New Delhi.
Zulfadli, who is currently sponsored by Red Bull, will be taking part in the Austria International Challenge from Feb 19-22 in Vienna, All-England (March 4-9), Swiss Open (March 12-17) and the Malaysian Open Grand Prix Gold (March 25-30) in Johor Baru.
BAM have yet to fix a date although they had announced earlier that they would hold an open trial to give independent shuttlers a shot at making the cut for the world team event.
The Badminton World Federation (BWF)’s closing date for the naming of entries is May 1 and that means the national body will have to conduct the trial soon.
With world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei, Chong Wei Feng and reigning Malaysian Open champions Lim Khim Wah-Goh V Shem and Hoon Thien How-Tan Wee Kiong as good as assured spots on the team, there could be just a few places up for grabs in the men’s singles and doubles.
Besides the independent shuttlers, national back-up players can also fight for a spot.
The 20-year-old Zulfadli, currently ranked 56th in the world, is hoping to make his debut in the Thomas Cup Finals.
“I am really looking forward to the BAM trial. They have stated that they will be open with their selection process and I hope they will keep their word,” said Zulfadli.
“I am only worried that it will clash with the Swiss Open. None of the BAM players are taking part in the Swiss Open and they (the BAM) may decide to do it then. I hope they will not,” he said.
“It is everyone’s dream to play in the Thomas Cup Finals and if there is a chance, I will fight for a spot.”
After enjoying a good run at the India Open Grand Prix Gold last month, where he dumped top seed and world No. 18 P. Kashyap of India en route to the quarter-finals, Zulfadli is hoping to keep his momentum going in Austria.
“Many good players are taking part in this tournament and it will not be an easy ride. I hope to go as far as possible,” added Zulfadli, who will take on Denmark’s Rasmus Fladberg in the opening round.
The top seed is Hsu Hen-hao of Taiwan and the second seed is Indian H.S. Prannoy.
The other Malaysians in the fray are former international Tan Chun Seang and club players Beryno Wong and Chiang Jiann Shiarng.