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Monday, 20 November 2017 | MYT 12:00 AM

Sze Fei-Izzuddin end one-year title drought in Johor Baru

PETALING JAYA: Shuttlers Goh Sze Fei-Nur Izzuddin Rumsani have strengthened their chances of making the national squad for the Thomas Cup qualifiers in February.

The world No. 49 finally ended their one-year title drought by winning the Celcom Axiata Malaysian International Challenge in Johor Baru yesterday.

Sze Fei-Izzuddin rose to the occasion to beat teammates Chun Kang Shia-Tan Wee Gieen 21-19, 21-12 in the men’s doubles final of the fourth-tier tournament at the Pasir Gudang Municipal Council.

The 20-year-old Izzuddin was happy to see the end of their miserable run.

“It feels good to win after struggling throughout this year. This win will surely boost our confidence to achieve more,” said Izzuddin.

“I’m from Johor. It was great to have my family rooting for us here. This win means a lot to me,” he added.

Sze Fei and Izzuddin only partnered each other in May last year, thanks to Cheah Soon Kit.

They showed plenty of promise by winning their first title at the fifth-tier Swiss International Series in October last year.

They also did exceptionally well to reach the final of the second-tier Malaysian Masters Grand Prix Gold in Sibu in January.

But suddenly they went on a freefall, losing in the early rounds of every international tournament.

Said Sze Fei: “We had high expectations of ourselves after reaching the final in Sibu. But we kept on losing (in the early rounds). We didn’t know how to deal with the loss of form.

“Our confidence was at an all-time low, but we’re glad to be back on track now.”

Yesterday’s win is likely to land Sze Fei-Izzuddin a place in the national squad for the Badminton Asia Team Championships in Alor Setar from Feb 6-11.

The meet is also the qualifying tournament for the Thomas and Uber Cup Finals in Bangkok from May 20-27.

“It’s up to the coaches (to select the team). Izzuddin and I just want to continue to give our best. We’ve done well in our last international tournament this season. We can now look forward to the new season,” said Sze Fei.

There was also joy for seasoned campaigner Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin, who only returned to action in May after being plagued by a back injury. The 26-year-old clinched his first title of the year when he beat youngster Leong Jun Hao 21-11, 21-13 in a 30-minute men’s singles final.