KUALA LUMPUR: Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin has recently admitted that Misbun Sidek is the important individual behind his recent run of impressive performances including his march to the semi-finals of the 2018 India Open.
The 26-year-old men’s singles player said that since Misbun was appointed national men’s singles head coach in July last year, the legendary former national champion has played a pivotal role in his resurgence, as he has constantly been plagued by back problems.
“This is my first semi-final since my run in the 2016 China Open, and this recent achievement has boosted my confidence which is very good as the fans and BA of Malaysia (BAM) want me to keep on producing good results.
“Misbun has helped me a lot, and since his arrival seven months ago, he has been like a father to me. We talk a lot and we have become close, so much so it has it has positively impacted my career which is clearly evident from my recent run of good form,” said Iskandar whose comments were featured on the Badminton World Federation (BWF) website.
Iskandar’s challenge at the India Open came to an end in the semi-finals when he was defeated by fourth seed Shi Yuqi of China, 21-18, 10-21, 19-21 yesterday (Saturday).
Iskandar impressed in the run up to the semi-finals when he pulled off a stunning upset by beating tournament second seed K. Srikanth of India in the second round with a convincing 21-19, 21-17 victory.
“That win is the most notable victory in my career so far after my return from injury. It has to be noted that prior to this I was out for six months recovering from my back injury and I only returned to action last September.
“In 2015, I was ranked world No 21 but because of the injury I dropped down in ranking and was left frustrated and disappointed. I even told the coach that this could be my last year though I would give it my all.
“Actually I had no specific targets or goals going into competition at the India Open, all I knew was that I wanted to beat players who were ranked higher than me,” said Iskandar.
The 2016 Malaysia Masters runner-up said that his rich vein of form has come at just the right time as he prepares to help the national team in facing the Asia Team Championship in Alor Setar which begins on Tuesday.
“This is a very important tournament because it is also the qualifying round for the Thomas Cup. All of us who make up the team are determined to do our best for the country so that we can qualify for the finals, and my recent run at the India Open has further boosted my confidence,” said Iskandar Zulkarnain.