KUALA LUMPUR: Akademi Badminton Malaysia (ABM) coaching director Rexy Mainaky has reminded men’s doubles players Choong Hon Jian-Muhammad Haikal Nazri to keep their feet planted firmly on the ground despite clinching their maiden title in the 2023 Syed Modi International badminton championships in Lucknow, India on Sunday (Dec 3).

Rexy said they should feel contented with winning the Super 300 tournament at the Babu Banarasi Das Indoor Stadium and challenged them to continue to perform consistently in future tournaments.

“We are afraid that when they are heaped with praises, they will become big-headed. Don’t be so satisfied that you lose your focus and come up with excuses when you lose.

“Instead, I want them to remain consistent not only in terms of their performance but also how they think and take care of themselves,” he said when met after a training session here today.

Rexy, however, is impressed to see Hon Jian-Muhammad Haikal, who were only paired up in August, produce such a positive impact by bagging their first title in such a short time, in addition to stunning higher-ranked opponents.

In the Syed Modi International final, the unseeded Hon Jian-Muhammad Haikal bounced back from a first-game defeat to stun top seeds Akira Koga-Taichi Saito of Japan 18-21, 21-18, 21-16.

Asked if the achievement of Hon Jian-Muhammad Haikal would give him a headache in choosing the best combination for the 2024 Thomas Cup Finals in Chengdu, China, Rexy said they would first half to prove to him that they can play well under pressure in other lower- and higher-ranked tournaments.

“Many areas need to be looked at when it comes to selection, not just the results but need to see if they can handle the pressure when playing in Super 1000 tournaments. Since they won on Sunday, I want to see if they can handle the pressure when they play in the Super 100 (2023 Guwahati Masters) after this,” he said.

Hon Jian-Muhammad Haikal are set to begin their campaign in the six-day 2023 Guwahati Masters in Assam, India against home pair Deep Rambhiya-Akshan Shetty today.

Their best achievement before Sunday’s win was finishing as runners-up in the Indonesia Masters II in Surabaya in October after going down 16-21, 18-21 to Japan’s Kenya Mitsuhashi-Hiroki Okamura. - Bernama

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