State of Malaysian tennis

Updated 27 January 2013

Novak Djokovic wins the Australian Open: USD2,430,000, equivalent to RM7.4 million.

13th January 2013: Lee Chong Wei wins the Korean Open, currently the badminton tournament with the world’s biggest prize money: USD75,000, equivalent to RM228,000.

Shouldn’t this, and Li Na proving that Asians can compete with mat salehs at tennis, at the highest level, turn the tables against badminton?

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6th July 2012

While Malaysia’s doing quite well in the racket sports of squash and badminton, it’s a rather different story in the most lucrative racket sports of them all: tennis. In fact, interest is apparently dwindling: saying Malaysians are good at tennis is like saying they are as good as Cuba at making box cigars. I have seen tennis courts being turned into car parks and futsal arenas.

As comparison:
- Malaysian Open 2012 tennis tournament, part of the ATP World Tour 250 series of the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) World Tour. The 250 series is the lowest tier of events on the tour, after the four Grand Slam tournaments, the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 and the ATP World Tour 500 series. Yet, the total prize money offered is USD850K (another report said more than USD900K). The men’s singles winner gets about USD150,000.
- Malaysian Open 2011 badminton tournament, part of the BWF Super Series tournament, the second tier of events on the tour behind the Premier Series. Total prize money: USD400K
- Men’s singles winner’s prize money: Badminton: All-England 2011: RM80K; Tennis: All-England (Wimbledon) 2011: RM5.2 million

At the time of writing, there is no Malaysian player ranked in the top 1,000 of the ATP rankings.

The best tennis players Malaysia has ever produced are:

MALE

Adam Malik (born 1967), the first Malaysian tennis player to turn professional (in 1988), reached no. 436 in 1995 (singles) and number 122 in doubles in 1994. With partner Jeff Tarango (USA), he reached the first round of the 1995 Australian Open doubles, where they lost to the Jon Ireland (Australia) & Libor Pimek (Belgium) combination 1-6, 6-4, 7-9. Strangely, this match is recorded in ATP World Tour’s archives, but not in the Australian Open archives. So Adam Malik is probably the first and only Malaysian to ever play in the main draw of a Grand Slam.

His highest profile matches include:

1995: Kuala Lumpur ATP event: Round of 32: lost to Richard Krajicek, ranked no.13, 6-7, 4-6. This is probably the highest ranked player a Malaysian has ever played in a competitive match. The next year Krajicek won Wimbledon, and reached no.4 in 1999.

1994: Kuala Lumpur ATP event: Quarterfinals: lost to Jacco Eltingh, ranked no. 39, 3-6, 2-6. By the next year Eltingh would be ranked no.19. He has reached the quarterfinals of the Australian Open and Wimbledon. This is probably the furthest any Malaysian has ever reached in a top level professional tennis tournament.

1993: Kuala Lumpur ATP event: Round of 32: lost to Fabrice Santoro, then ranked no. 43, 5-7, 6-7. By 2001 Santoro would be ranked no.17 and reach the third round of all the Slams.

1991: Hong Kong ATP event: Round of 32: lost to Greg Rusedski, then 18 & ranked no. 402, 5-7, 3-6. By 1997 Rusedski would be ranked no.4 and reach the final of the US Open.

V. Selvam (born 1969), who reached no. 424 in 1994.

R. Ramachandran (born 1970), who reached no. 876 in 1993.

FEMALE

Khoo Chin Bee (born 1977), who reached no. 329 in 2004 (singles) and number 221 in doubles in the same year (another report says no. 343 in 2003 (singles) and no. 291 in 2003 (doubles)).

When will we see a Malaysian in the main draw of a Grand Slam singles tournament?

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