* World Championship bound Zulfadli retires midway in first round qualifying round
* SEA Games bound Arif Latif falls at second hurdle in the qualifier
* Jing Yi makes the main draw with privateer Lydia Cheah
World Championships bound Zulfadli Zulkifli’s campaign in the USD750,000 The Star Australian Open Superseries in Sydney lasted only 28 minutes when he retired against Japan’s Kenta Nishimoto in his qualifying first round match round.
The Japanese was leading 21-16, 11-1 when the Malaysian, a former Asian and world junior champion – who is an independent player – called it quits.
Zulfadli. currently ranked No 41 in the world, was picked for the World Championships in Jakarta in August while Chong Wei Feng, ranked No 32, was sacrificed by the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) to make way for former world No 1 Datuk Lee Chong Wei to compete in Jakarta as Chong Wei “has better chances of winning a medal” in the world meet.
Wei Feng, who was a shattered man after being left out of the World Championships, has been promised a “all the help” by BAM in his quest to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics.
On Tuesday, Wei Feng marched into the main draw after knocking out two opponents in the qualifying round. In the first round Wei Feng packed off Japan’s Riichi Takeshita in straight sets with a 21-19, 21-17 win in 40 minutes.
Three hours later Wei Feng was back on court and had an easier match in his 21-9, 21-11 win over Australia’s Michael Fariman in 25 minutes to earn a place in the main draw. The Malaysian will be up against South Korean veteran Lee Hyun Il.
Another independent player Mohamad Arif Abdul Latif, who will don national colours in the 28th SEA Games in Singapore from June 5-16, was another Malaysian casualty in the qualifiers. After clearing his first hurdle with 21-12, 21-18 win over Sattawat Pongnairat (USA), Arif battled for 57 minutes against Thailand veteran Boonsan Ponsana who won 16-21, 21-19, 21-17.
Malaysia’s top women shuttler Tee Jing Yi, the country’s medal prospect in the SEA Games, also made the main draw after clearing two hurdles. In the first round Jing Yi defeated Australia’s Melinda Sun 21-11, 21-15 and then battled past Ireland’s Chloe Magee in three sets, winning 21-17, 21-23, 21-12 in 65 minutes.
Independent player Lydia Cheah Yu Yi, who will compete in the World Championships, also eased into the main draw after defeating Jamie Subandhi (USA) 21-15, 21-11 in the first round and won 21-15, 21-17 against Australia’s Tiffany Ho in the second round.
In the tournament proper Jing Yi will open her campaign against Japan’s Minatsu Mitani while Lyddia will face defending champion and second seed Saina Nehwal of India, the current world No 1.