Tuesday August 21, 2012
Zulfadli out to make impact in Vietnam Open
By KNG ZHENG GUAN
PETALING JAYA: The Raya holiday is over even before it got going for world junior champion Zulfadli Zulkifli as he prepares to make an impact in the Vietnam Open starting today in Ho Chi Minh City.
The 18-year-old KLRC shuttler has yet to shine on the senior stage since bagging the Asian and World junior titles last year, raising doubts about his ability to become Malaysia’s next great hope after Lee Chong Wei.
Although immensely talented, the lanky Zulfadli has struggled to make the transition, crashing out in the early rounds of the Swiss Open, Malaysian Open GP Gold and Australian Open earlier this year.
Zulfadli, who is currently ranked No. 81 in the world, however, did well to make the final of the Maldives International Challenge and the semi-finals of the Russian Open in June.
“I didn’t have the best of preparations for the Vietnam Open due to the fasting month as I only trained once a day. But I’m all fired up for the challenge,” said Zulfadli.
“This tournament is important because it gives me the opportunity to collect ranking points and I want to go as far as I can.
“Although several of the top stars are missing, it won’t be easy as there are a few top 20 players in the competition.
“Still, I believe my draw isn’t too bad. This is a good chance for me to go out and prove a point.”
Zulfadli faces a qualifier in the first round and is expected to progress to a meeting against ninth seed Tanongsak Saemsomboonsuk of Thailand.
An upset win should see him take on India’s fast-improving youngster Sourabh Verma in the third round with a possible quarter-final against top seed and home favourite Nguyen Tien Minh.
Besides Zulfadli, the other Malaysian shuttlers in the fray are Mohd Arif Abdul Latif, Chan Kwong Beng, Misbun Ramdan Misbun, Iskandar Zulkarnian Zainuddin, Soong Joo Ven, Soo Teck Zhi, Goh Soon Huat and Loh Wei Sheng.