Tze Yong relishing return to top form at BATC after injury lay-off

KUALA LUMPUR: The Badminton Asia Team Championships (BATC) in Selangor this week will serve as a barometer to gauge if Ng Tze Yong is back to his best.

The national men's singles player will be returning to competitive action for the first time since sustaining a lower back injury in the first round of the Malaysia Open last month.

The 24-year-old, who has been undergoing rehabilitation since then, is in a race against time to regain his form as he only has until the end of April to secure his spot in the Paris Olympics.

On Monday, world No. 15 Tze Yong was seen going through on-court drills separately with his coach at the Setia City Convention Centre, and he looks set to be fielded as the second singles player for the Malaysian men's team, behind world No. 10 Lee Zii Jia.

"I need to play tomorrow (Tuesday) to assess my condition because this will be my first competitive action in over a month after sustaining my injury.

"I have been undergoing rehabilitation over the past month, so it is crucial for me to gauge my physical condition."

According to Tze Yong, he will play in all the ties if his body permits.

The Malaysian men's team will begin their title defence on Tuesday against minnows Brunei in Group B. After that, the team will face Kazakhstan and Taiwan.

Only the top two teams from the group will qualify for the knockout stages, with the semi-finalists qualifying on merit for the Thomas Cup in April.

"Nobody wants to lose, so if my body permits, I'd like to play in all the matches to help Malaysia win a point.

"In team events, every point counts. If we are well ahead, it will reduce the pressure on our teammates," added Tze Yong.

Meanwhile, national coach Hendrawan pointed out that it is premature to draw any conclusion on Tze Yong's condition.

"We can't compare a tournament to training alone.

"During training, everything may seem fine, but it is only after playing in a competitive match that we will be able to fully assess Tze Yong's condition.

"Surely, Tze Yong's condition is not 100 per cent because he is only returning from a one-month tournament layoff.

"We will need to monitor his progress closely," said Hendrawan.

Apart from Tze Yong and Zii Jia, the other men's singles players in the squad are former Asian junior champion Leong Jun Hao and youngster Eogene Ewe.

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