By Mark Etheridge
South Africa’s top-ranked singles badminton ace, Jacob Maliekal has moved on from a somewhat disappointing African campaign and moving up the global rankings.
Currently based in China, the 2014 Team SA Commonwealth Games player, played tournaments in Zambia, Cape Town and Botswana, reaching the quarter-finals in all three.
The world’s 81st ranked player then moved on to a Turkish tournament as the year wound down and was seeded eighth.
‘The three African tournaments didn’t go as well as I expected, I wanted to do better there but it happens I guess, I was just out of form. However the week following those tournaments I played the Turkey International challenge just before Christmas and reached quarters there – it’s a higher graded tournament so I got good points and played well almost beating a good Indian player, Harsheel Dani, in three sets (16-21 21-17 21-7). He reached the final and lost to a top 20 player in three sets as well.
‘So I got a bit of a confidence boost there. Now I’m back in China training and life is fine here. We’re well looked after by our club, Kawasaki and things are going well.
‘I’m playing the China Challenge next week which will be tough but our club players are going so I’m joining them too. Thailand is second week of February and yes, I’ll be playing that too.’
Maliekal, formerly based in Indonesia, is now based in Shenzhen where he turns out for the Kawasaki Club (see picture above, fourth from right).