KUALA LUMPUR: Given his current form, Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin may just be Malaysia’s best bet for the third singles spot at the Thomas Cup in Bangkok in May.
The 27-year-old edged closer towards a second national crown when he beat teammate Cheam June Wei 21-17, 21-9 to reach the National Championships men’s singles semi-finals at the Juara Stadium in Bukit Kiara today.
Earlier in the second round, the Johor-born shuttler saw off another BA of Malaysia teammate Chong Yee Han 21-14, 21-13, to set up a date with June Wei in the last eight.
Iskandar is also the only remaining shuttler from the three (Iskandar, Soong Joo Ven and Leong Jun Hao) who are fighting for the third singles spot in the Thomas Cup team.
Joo Ven and Jun Hao both crashed out in the second round.
When asked if the National Championships is the best platform to earn his Thomas Cup berth, since he won’t be in Europe for the German Open and All England this month, Iskandar said: “To be honest, I try to not think of the Thomas Cup, because I don’t want to pressure myself.
“I’ve come under criticism due to my inconsistent performance, so I think what’s more important right now is to maintain this good run, since I also did well to reach the semi-finals at the India Open last month.
“I know our president (Datuk Seri Norza Zakaria) had mentioned that it is still an open fight for the third singles spot.
“But I really just want to play well. Of course if I’m in, I will do my best for the team.”
So far, BAM have confirmed national No 1 Lee Chong Wei and Lee Zii Jia as the first and second singles respectively.
Meanwhile, professional shuttler R. Satheishtharan of Selangor continued his impressive run in the tournament when he checked into the last four with a 21-12, 23-21 upset win over national shuttler Soo Teck Zhi.
Satheishtharan, a former BAM shuttler, had earlier shown Joo Ven the exit, and will face Iskandar next for a place in the final.
Also through to the last four were Zii Jia and second seed Chong Wei Feng of Kedah.
Zii Jia, defeated Sarawak’s Alfred Lau 21-7, 21-10 in the quarter-finals while Wei Feng sent Penang’s Yeoh Seng Zoe packing with a 21-15, 21-19 win.