Selangor Journal
(from left to right) National badminton and men’s doubles players Choong Hon Jian and Muhammad Haikal Nazri in action during their match against Chinese Taipei’s Ming Che Lu and Tang Kai Wei, in the quarterfinal of the 2024 Thailand Open Badminton championships at the Nimibutr Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand, on May 17, 2024. — Picture via FACEBOOK/BADMINTON ASSOCIATION OF MALAYSIA – BAM

Hon Jian-Haikal in top 20, a positive development — Rexy

KUALA LUMPUR, June 19 — Akademi Badminton Malaysia (ABM) coaching director Rexy Mainaky wants the national junior and backup men’s doubles pairs to follow in the footsteps of Choong Hon Jian-Muhammad Haikal Nazri, who have recently shown impressive performances in several tournaments.

The young pair, who reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open last week and the quarter-finals of the Thailand Open last month in four tournaments since May, have climbed eight places to rank 20th in the world, the highest in their career.

Choong, 23, and Haikal, 21, who were eliminated in the second round of the Malaysian Masters last month and the first round of the Indonesian Open earlier this month, are currently ranked fifth in Malaysia behind Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik (world No. 5), Goh Sze Fei-Nur Izzuddin Rumsani (13), Man Wei Chong-Tee Kai Wun (16) and professional pair Ong Yew Sin-Teo Ee Yi (18).

Academy of Badminton Malaysia coaching director Rexy Mainaky speaks to the press after a training session at the academy in Bukit Kiara, Kuala Lumpur, on June 19, 2024. — Picture by BERNAMA

Rexy views this as a very positive development for the national camp, with more than three ABM men’s pairs able to compete in high-level tournaments such as the World Tour Super 500, 750, and 1000.

“We now have three senior pairs and three junior pairs who can challenge in the 500 and above tournaments. The competitiveness out in the field is very positive.

“We hope that junior pairs such as Wan Muhammad Arif Shaharuddin Wan Junaidi-Yap Roy King and Kang Khai Xing-Aaron Tai will also push to improve their performance,” he told the press during a training session at ABM today.

Rexy said that ABM has not yet decided whether Choong will focus on men’s doubles or mixed doubles, despite his current world ranking of 40th with his partner, Go Pei Kee (in mixed doubles).

The Bukit Mertajam native has discussed the matter with national mixed doubles coach Nova Widianto, but a decision is expected to be made towards the end of this year after evaluating his performance development and determining the more dominant event.

Meanwhile, Rexy also demanded that Choong-Haikal act more seriously and aggressively when facing top world doubles pairs, based on their performance in the 18-21, 10-21 loss to the world’s eighth-ranked pair from China He Ji Ting-Ren Xiang Yu, in the semi-finals of the Australian Open on Saturday (June 15).

“They were too playful. Their mistake when leading 16-14 in the first set was not applying enough pressure on the Chinese pair despite them playing aggressively to earn more points.

“Hon Jian and Muhammad Haikal played too safely, which gave China the chance to exert pressure on them,” he said.

— Bernama

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