Despite the noticeable improvement, men’s doubles shuttler Goh Sze Fei believes Malaysian pairs are still at a disadvantage when up against Indonesian and Japanese combinations.
Just this season, Sze Fei and his partner Nur Izzuddin Rumsani were denied the Swiss Open title by Indonesia’s Fajar Alfian-Muhammad Rian Ardianto and were sent packing in the quarter-finals of the recent Thailand Open by Japan’s No 1 Takuro Hoki-Yugo Kobayashi.
Top Malaysian duo Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik have already lost twice to Fajar-Rian this year — in the semi-finals of both the German and Thailand Opens.
Earlier this month, the Malaysian world No 6 were denied the Asian Championships crown when they lost to up-and-coming Indonesian pair Pramudya Kusumawardana-Yeremia Rambitan.
As the national camp gears up for the Indonesia Masters (June 7-12) and the Indonesia Open (June 14-19) next, Sze Fei noted that it was crucial for him and his teammates to overcome the mental and physical barriers when up against Indonesian and Japanese opponents.
“It’s difficult to explain, but mentally when we face Indonesian or Japanese opponents, we are at a slight disadvantage. Game-wise, they are both very different.
“Indonesian pairs focus on half and front court attacks, while Japanese combinations combine defence and attack.
“Yes, our pairs have improved a lot, but we must overcome this barrier.
“Mentally, we need to be better, but right now they are winning this game,” said Sze Fei.
The world No 12 will open their Indonesia Masters campaign against Scotland’s Alexander Dunn-Adam Hall.
They are also in the same top half of the draw as Aaron-Wooi Yik and world No 10 Ong Yew Sin-Teo Ee Yi.