The just concluded Malaysia Masters was another indication our home shuttlers have catching up to do against the top shuttlers to contend for podium finishes, after none made the finals for the second consecutive week.

The elimination of national men’s doubles pair Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik in the semi-finals also forced doubles’ chief Rexy Mainaky to come out and clarify the future of the latter.

“We have not come to the point where we need to split Aaron-Wooi Yik. We do not have many options at the moment to choose from.

“We do have many up and coming pairs, but they are all ranked outside the top 100. We are not like Indonesia, who have six pairs in the top 25.

“If we pair Aaron-Wooi Yik with younger players, it will affect their ranking. We also do not have the luxury of time to start them from lower-tier events, especially with the qualification for the Tokyo 2024 Olympics looming,” he said.

Of the lot, Chia-Soh performed the best of the Malaysians by reaching the semi-finals of the Malaysia Open and Masters.

But they faltered on the big stage when they were expected to perform better, especially with the backing of a vocal home crowd.

The Malaysians could take a leaf from the Chinese and Indonesian shuttlers, who were the most successful in both competitions.

China and Indonesia won three titles each, followed by Japan, Thailand, Denmark and South Korea with one title each in the last two weeks.

Besides the good badminton on show, the Malaysia Masters were also marred by a flurry of withdrawals due to COVID-19.

Ong Yew Sin, Lee Yang-Wang Chi-lin, Kunvalut Vitidsarn, Lai Pei Jing, Wang Yi Lyu-Huang Dong Ping were among those who had to withdraw due to the virus.

Besides that, there were several media members also infected at the Axiata Arena.