Tze Yong hopes to make smashing return at BATC

KUALA LUMPUR: Shuttler Ng Tze Yong is keeping his fingers crossed that he will be able to return to optimal condition for the Badminton Asia Team Championships (BATC), which begins next Tuesday at Setia Alam Convention Centre in Shah Alam.

It's imperative that the 23-year-old makes full use of the BATC ahead of the gruelling stretch of World Tour events in Europe, which could prove decisive for his Paris Olympics qualification bid.

Fitness permitting, Tze Yong is expected to play in at least three out of the five weeks featuring the German Open (Feb 27-Mar 3), French Open (Mar 5-10), All England (Mar 12-17), Swiss Open (Mar 19-24), and the Spain Masters (Mar 26-31).

Tze Yong has some catching-up to do after hurting his lower back during the first round of the Malaysia Open.

The injury forced him to be sidelined from the India Open, Indonesia Masters, and Thailand Masters.

Tze Yong appeared to be in good spirits as he declared to the media that he has nearly "80 per cent recovered."

"I think I'm reaching about 70 to 80 per cent of full recovery, but I have to tread with caution so that I do not aggravate the injury," said Tze Yong.

"I've started playing matches in training, but of course, it doesn't feel like what it was when I was 100 per cent fit.

"Having just recovered from an injury, it will take some time to get back to my best.

"I'm working hard to regain my strength.

"Thankfully, we will be playing against some weaker opponents during the BATC group stage (Brunei and Kazakhstan), so these matches will be good for me to regain competitiveness"

Tze Yong will be hoping to draw good memories from the last BATC two years ago, also held in Shah Alam, where he played a pivotal part in helping Malaysia win the men's team title.

Tze Yong won all the three matches he was fielded, including the winning point, which saw Malaysia crush Indonesia 3-0 in the final.

"I think it's going to be tougher this time as most teams are coming with strong line-ups, but I believe we still stand a fighting chance because we will compete with an almost full-strength squad too," said Tze Yong.

Before the BATC, Tze Yong is looking forward to spending some quality time with his family members in Johor for the Chinese New Year.

"I've been granted a day and a half off, so that I could go back to celebrate the Chinese New Year. Although it's short, I'm going to cherish this opportunity because I have not been able to go back for the last few years," said Tze Yong.

Being born in the Year of the Dragon, Tze Yong is hoping that he will be blessed with plenty of luck in this important year.

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