Iskandar Zulkarnain

# National ace tells youngsters to remain focused

# Iskandar, Zulfadli, Teck Zhi and Soon Huat join Chong Wei in Round Three


Datuk Lee Chong Wei is the top seed and the favourite to win the title but he is equally concerned with the rising stars who will carry the nation’s burden in international badminton.

The former World No 1 is chasing points for the Rio Olympics and is playing in his first international tournament this year. More importantly Chong Wei is also concerned that the youngsters stay focused now that they have a burden to carry Malaysia’s burden.

Youngsters like Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin, Zulfadli Zulkifli, Soo Teck Zhi are in the Malaysian team to next month’s Asia Team Badminton Championships in Hyderabad, India from Feb 15-21.

Chong Wei led the youngsters into the third round in the men’s singles in the USD120,000 Victor Far East Malaysia Masters at the Spice Arena in Penang on Wednesday.

Chong Wei was hardly stretched by Thailand’s Kantawat Leelavechabutr in his second round match in his 21-6, 21-15 win in 28 minutes to earn a third round clash against Singapore’s former Sea Games champion Derek Wong Zi Liang.

The Singaporean, upset 13th seed Hsu Jen Hao of Taiwan in straight sets 21-15, 21-17.

Chong Wei, who hails from Penang, is enjoying the game in front of his home supporters who have come in droves to see their idol play.

Putting his personal target aside in his chase for Olympic points Chong Wei urged his younger teammates to “keep the momentm hot” in Penang as they prepare for the Asia Team Badminton Championships.

National champion Iskandar is having a fine run in the Malaysia Masters when he dumped Indonesian Ginting Anthony 21-18, 21-13. He will now face China’s rising star Xue Song for a place in the quarter-finals.

“I have changed my mindset to face challenges. I am no more young. I don’t want to lose to younger players and the only way is to step up my momentum. I hope to go as far as possible in this tournament,” said Iskandar.

Zulfadli who will play first singles in the Asian team meet in the absence of Chong Wei and Chong Wei Feng was also in the limelight when he came back from a set down to upset Hong Kong veteran and fifth seed Hu Yun 17-21, 21-18, 24-22 in a 78 minute battle.

The Malaysian showed tremendous fighting spirit to keep his hopes alive as he fought back in the rubber even when Hu Yun looked like winning the match.

“I was not willing to surrender and I was willing to take risks at crucial times. The move paid off,” said Zulkifli who now faces India’s Ajay Jayaram, the ninth seed who defeated Czech Republic’s Petr Koukal 21-17, 21-17 in his second round match.



Men’s singles

Datuk Lee Chong Wei beat Kantawat Leelavechabutr (Tha) 21-6, 21-15

Zulfadli Zulkifli (Mas) beat Hu Yun (Hkg) 17-21, 21-18, 24-22

Ajay Jayaram (Ind) beat Petr Koukal (Cze) 21-17, 21-17

Srikanth (INd) beat Christie Jonathan (Ina) 21-16, 21-15

Tommy Sugiarto (Ina) bet B. Sai Praneeth (Ind) 21-14, 10-21, 21-18

Soo Teck Zhi (Mas) beatRiichi Takeshita (Jpn) 21-14, 24-22

Goh Soon Huat (Mas) beat Sameer Varma (Ind) 7-21, 21-13, 21-16

Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin (Mas) beat Ginting Anthony (Ina) 21-18m 21-13

Boonsak Ponsana (Tha) beat Lee Cheuk Yiu (Hkg) 21-17, 21-19

Lee Dong Keun (Kor) beat Artem Pochtarev (Ukr) 21-12, 21-9



(First Round)

Sung Ji-Hyung (Kor) beat Cheung Ngan Yi Hkg) 21-11, 21-17

Hana Ramadhini (Ina) beat Pai Yu Po (Tpe) 21-14, 21-15

Sayaka sato (Jpn) beat Tee Jing Yi (Mas) 21-19, 21-17

Supanida Katethong (Tha) beat Lim Chiew Sien (Mas) 21-18, 21-23, 21-18

Venkata Sindhu (Ind) beat Sabrina Jaquet (Sui) 21-17, 21-16

Kaori Imebeppu (Jpn) beat Iris Wang (USA) 21-18, 22-20

Lindaweni Fanetri (Ina) beat Minatsu Mitani (Jpn)

Bae Yeon-ju (Kor) beat Liang Xiaoyu (Sin) 21-14, 21-12

Kirsty Gilmour (Sco) beat Lim Yin Fun (Mas) 21-16, 18-21, 21-14

Akane Yamaguchi (Jpn) beat Saena Kawakami (Jpn) 1-3 (Ret)

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