PETALING JAYA: Mohd Fairuzizuan Mohd Tazari-Mohd Zakry Latif have been targeted for Olympic qualification and they are down to play in as many Open badminton tournaments as possible to achieve the goal.
But the duo will not be taking things for granted. They want to make things easier for themselves by dishing out good performances in the first two Super Series events of the year – the Malaysian Open at Putra Stadium in Bukit Jalil next week and the Korea Open the following week.
While world number one Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong are seen as Malaysia's big hope for an Olympic gold medal, doubles coach Rexy Mainaky felt that the presence of a strong second pair will be crucial towards reaching the objective.
Fairuzizuan-Zakry will have to step in to play the role as supporting partners if veteran doubles player Lee Wan Wah, who forms the world number five combination with Choong Tan Fook, fails to recover his full fitness and the pair slip in the rankings.
Fairuzizuan-Zakry will have to maintain their current ranking at number 16 by the end of April to secure automatic qualification to the Beijing Games in August.
Fairuzizuan said that to qualify for the Olympics was not only their main goal for the year but they also hoped to bag their first international title.
“It will be good if we can do well at the start of the season, beginning with the Malaysian Open. It is important for us to build up our confidence,” he said.
“We want to do well in the Malaysian and Korean Opens because this will also confirm our places for the tournaments after that. We are in line for Olympic qualification but we cannot afford a slip in our rankings.”
Fairuzizuan was paired off with Zakry last April and fell short of emerging as champions in two international tournaments.
They had a brilliant run in the Indonesia Open but were beaten by Fu Haifeng-Cai Yun of China in the final. They made it to the final of the Copenhagen Master two weeks ago and lost to Danish veterans Jens Eriksen-Martin Lundgaard Hansen.
The Olympic aspirants will not find it easy in the Malaysian Open. They have Indonesians Luluk Hadiyanto-Alvent Yulianto as their opponents in the first round. Victory will give them a probable match against the Indonesian-American combination of Candra Wijaya-Tony Gunawan.
Fairuzizuan-Zakry defeated both pairs last year. They overcame Luluk-Alvent to reach the semi-finals of the Taiwan Open and eliminated Candra-Tony in the semi-finals of the Indonesian Open.
Said Zakry: “If we don't get rattled, we have a good chance to beat the Indonesian pair again. We want to give the home fans something to cheer. We will be playing for the first time together as a pair, being the first time we are playing together in the Malaysian Open.”