Kuala Lumpur: The 2011 BWF world junior champion Zulfadli Zulkifli became the sole Malaysia men’s singles representative who successfully made it to the main draw at the Malaysian Open on Tuesday. Zulkifli prevented Malaysia from creating an embarrassing record where for the first time in the history of Malaysian Open, no Malaysian men’s singles player could make it to main draw.
The independent shuttler eased past Thailand’s Sattawat Pongnairat 21-12, 21-8 earlier Tuesday, but was forced to work hard for 57 minutes before he defeated Indonesia’s Fikri Ihsandi Hadmadi 23-21, 21-14 in the second qualifying match. Zulkifli will play Tian Houwei of China in the first round of Malaysian Open on Wednesday.
Zulkifli who is ranked world No. 48, however, did not set any expectations against Tian Houwei.
“The last time I played Tian was in the 2009 World Junior Championships. But he has improved tremendously because he has been practicing with Lin Dan and Chen Long,” said Zulkifli.
Another independent shuttler Mohd Arif Abdul Latif of Malaysia also faltered in the qualifying round after losing to Indonesian Dionysius Hayom Rumbaka 18-21, 15-21. Earlier, Dionysius Hayom Rumbaka defeated Malaysian shuttler Daren Liew 21-19, 18-21, 21-16 in 64 minutes.
Other Malaysian men’s singles shuttlers – Chong Wei Feng, Goh Soon Huat, and Chiang Jiann Shiarng were all sent packing from the tournament.
Both Daren Liew and Chong Wei Feng admitted that, to some extent, Rashid Sidek’s departure has affected their performances as they have been coached by Rashid Sidek for the last ten years.