GEORGETOWN – After almost giving up his badminton career last year, Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin bounced back to shine at the Malaysian Masters Grand Prix Gold championship at SPICE Arena here today.
Iskandar, 24, advanced to the men’s singles final when he shocked second seed K.Srikanth of India in straight sets of 27-25, 21-9.
In the 48-minute semi-final encounter witnessed by thousands of local badminton fans in Penang, Iskandar appeared calm when the first set was deuced at 20-20.
“At that moment, it depended on mental strength. He (Srikanth) put a lot of pressure on me and I also made some errors.
“At that point, I pepped myself that I would win the deuce this time and I did,” he said.
The national champion began well when he eliminated fourth seed Son Wan Ho of South Korea before downing Anthony Ginting (Indonesia) in the second round and Xue Song (China) in the third round, and proceeded to show eighth seed Angus Ng Ka Long of Hong Kong the exit in the quarter-finals.
Iskandar will face top national player Datuk Lee Chong Wei in the final tomorrow.
On the match, Iskandar said he had hoped to play against Chong Wei, whom he considered as a brother who encouraged him to make a comback.
In fact, Iskandar said there was a lot to learn from the final tomorrow.
“I usually see him play on television but this time I will face the man himself in court. I will definitely give my best at such an opportunity,” he said.
He said the match against the former world number one player would be tougher as he has no advantage over Chong Wei.
“It will be tough but I will play for a miracle tomorrow,” he said.
Meanwhile, national professional doubles, Koo Kien Keat/Tan Boon Heong were on track to clinch their first title of the year when they progressed into the men’s doubles final.
Despite not preferring to meet the South Korean pair, the former world number one doubles pair upset the tournament top seeds Kim Gi Jung/Kim Sa Rang, also from South Korea, 15-21, 21-18, 21-16.
“In the first set, we were still guessing and were unsure of attacking. But when we lost the first set, I told Kien Keat, we have to play our way,” said Boon Heong.
In the final, the national pair will meet Indonesia’s Gideon Markus Fernaldi/Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo who defeated Takeshi Kamura/Keigo Sonoda of Japan 21-7, 21-17. – BERNAMA