Badminton Association of Malaysia - BAM fb
10/05/2024 05:11 PM

KUALA LUMPUR, May 10 (Bernama) -- National men's doubles shuttler Muhammad Haikal Nazri is confident that he and his partner, Choong Hon Jian, have the right "recipe” to stun two of the world's best pairs in the 2024 Thailand Open badminton championships in Bangkok from May 14-19.

Muhammad Haikal believes that going into the tournament as the underdogs means there will be no pressure on them, paving the way for them to create an upset over their higher-ranked opponents in the Super 500 World Tour championships at the Nimibutr Stadium.

"There are many top pairs in the Thailand Open, including world number three and top seeds Satwiksairaj Rankireddy-Chirag Shetty of India.

"Based on the draw, it looks like we do have a chance (to overcome the world's top pairs), including the possibility of meeting second seeds Muhammad Shohibul Fikri-Bagas Maulana of Indonesia in the second round. It's not that I want to sound overconfident, but as the underdogs, there is definitely less pressure and we should capitalise on this opportunity,” he told reporters after a training session here today. 

To set up a second-round clash with the Indonesians, Hon Jian-Muhammad Haikal will first have to get past two-time World Championships bronze medallists Kim Gi Jun-Kim Sa Rang of South Korea in the opening round.

Muhammad Shohibul-Bagas, meanwhile, are set to meet Malaysia's Boon Xin Yuan-Goh V Shem in the first round.

Although Gi Jun and Sa Rang are 33 and 34 respectively, the 21-year-old Muhammad Haikal said they would never underestimate the sixth-seeded South Korean pair's capabilities.

The Kelantan-born Muhammad Haikal also admitted that his participation in the recent Thomas Cup Finals in Chengdu, China proved to be a good exposure for him as it taught him how to adapt to playing against the world's best pairs.

For him, one of the most memorable moments of the Thomas Cup action was seeing the performance of China's second pair of He Ji Ting-Ren Xiang Yu, who staged a magnificent fightback to overcome Goh Sze Fei-Nur Izzuddin Rumsani 18-21, 21-19, 21-12 and clinch the winning point as China defeated Malaysia 3-1 in the semi-finals on May 4.

"Sze Fei-Nur Izzuddin played well but I was impressed with how Ji Ting-Xiang Yu communicated, switched up their game and rotated. In the (Thomas Cup) final (against Indonesia), the Chinese pair defeated Muhammad Shohibul-Bagas in straight games,” he said.

Ji Ting-Xiang Yu's 21-11, 21-15 win over Muhammad Shohibul-Bagas on Sunday (May 5) again proved pivotal as it confirmed a 3-1 victory for China, who lifted the Thomas Cup for the 11th time.

Muhammad Haikal, however, is grateful to have played a part in helping the national team win the bronze medal in Chengdu and get on the podium for the first time after eight years and he also hopes to make the squad again for the 2026 edition of the Thomas Cup Finals in Horsens, Denmark.