BIRMINGHAM: It was a dream come true for Misbun Ramdan Misbun after he produced a sensational performance to check himself into the main draw of the All-England on Tuesday.
Making his debut in the world’s most prestigious badminton tournament and playing in front of his father – Misbun Sidek, runner-up in 1986, Ramdan first dispatched experienced Dane Joachim Persson 21-16, 18-21, 21-8 in the first qualifying round.
And the 2012 national champion took one more step in the right direction after fighting back to down Finland’s Ville Lang 18-21, 21-11, 16-3, with his opponent retiring after succumbing to a calf injury.
Ramdan’s superb showing more than made up for both Liew Daren and Zulfadli Zulkiffli’s disappointing defeats in the first round of the qualifiers.
More importantly, it could be a sign that the laidback Ampang boy, who plays with the swagger and confidence of his father, is finally ready to step up to the big leagues.
“The All-England is one of the most famous tournaments in the world and to make the main draw, on my debut … is really a dream come true,” said an elated Ramdan.
“I would have never thought I could even get past the qualifiers as I had to compete against tough and experienced players.
“Luck may have played a part for me as Ville was probably already tired, but in the end I am really happy to win. I will definitely try to keep up with this performance.”
Ramdan who is currently ranked No. 48 in the world certainly will not have it any easier as he will take on world No. 24 Chou Tien-chen of Taiwan in the first round of the main draw.
But while Ramdan got off to a solid start, former French Open champion Daren and 2011 world junior champion Zulfadli both suffered disappointing defeats.
Daren in particular was at a loss to explain his miserable 8-21, 21-23 defeat to Hong Kong’s Wei Nan.
“I don’t really know how to bounce back from this slump I am in. I was too eager and made too many simple mistakes,” said a dejected Daren.
Zulfadli, meanwhile, was outclassed 12-21, 19-21 by South Korean Lee Dong-keun. The Korean No. 2 then went on to beat Wei Nan for a spot in the main draw.
In other results, England will send two more men’s doubles pairs to the main draw after Peter Briggs-Harley Towler and Marcus Ellis-Tom Wolfenden both came through the qualifiers.
In the women’s singles, Sarah Walker came close to becoming the first Englishwoman to compete in the main draw since 2009 but fell short in the end.
Walker, who bizzarely played her second round match against Taiwan’s Hsu Ya-ching just an hour after beating Russia’s Ksenia Polikarpova, lost a closely-contest match, 19-21, 22-24.
The biggest surprise of the day, however, was the shock defeat of world and Asian junior champion Akane Yamaguchi of Japan at the hands of unheralded Taiwanese Pai Yu-po in the first round of qualifiers. Yu-po won 13-21, 21-19, 21-18.