KUALA LUMPUR: The race for the men’s doubles third slot in the Thomas Cup Finals is still wide open.
National doubles coach Rexy Mainaky wants to use the back-to-back tournaments in Europe – the All-England and Swiss Open – to pick the country’s third pair.
The All-England begins in Birmingham next Wednesday.
Rexy said it was time that the doubles players proved they were good enough to be selected for the premier team event, which will be held in Jakarta from May 11-19.
Malaysia are looking at naming four men’s singles players and three men’s pairs for the Finals.
“For now, no one is assured of his place (for the Finals) although the current top two pairs look good for their places. And the third slot, especially, is still an open race,” said Rexy.
“I have to be fair to the other players. They will be considered if then can achieve good results in Europe. This is their chance to show me that they deserve to be in the team.”
Currently, the top two pairs are world No. 3 Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong and world No. 4 Choong Tan Fook-Lee Wan Wah.
Mohd Zakry Abdul Latif-Mohd Faizuzizuan Mohd Tazari could have strengthened their grip on the third doubles slot at the recent Thomas Cup qualifiers but they blew their chances after losing to the scratch partnership of Park Sung-hwan-Hwang Ji-man during the tie against South Korea in the final.
The others in the running for the third slot are Gan Teik Chai-Woon Lin Fui and Ong Soon Hock-Tan Bin Shen.
Soon Hock-Bin Shen quit the national team last month but returned a week later after the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) promised them better tournament opportunities in the future.
All five pairs will be competing in the All-England, with defending champions Kien Keat-Boon Heong having the best chance to go the furthest.
Zakry-Fairuzizuan will play Denmark’s Mathias Boe-Carsten Morgensen in the opening round; Teik Chai-Woon Fui are expected to face China’s Cai Yun-Fu Haifeng in the second round; Bin Shen-Soon Hock are likely to take on two-time All-England runners-up Tan Fook-Wan Wah in the second round.
Two other pairs with an outside chance of stealing the third doubles slot are Chan Chong Ming-Chew Choon Eng and Hoon Thien How-Tan Wee Kiong.
These two pairs did not make it to the All-England because of their low world rankings, a result of their new partnerships.
“It will be great if one of our pairs can win the All-England title. But what is more important to me is for them to perform just as how they have been doing in training,” said Rexy.
Rexy, Kien Keat-Boon Heong, national singles coach Misbun Sidek and top men’s singles shuttler Lee Chong Wei left for Birmingham yesterday.