Saturday September 29, 2012
Arif wilts under heavy barrage in Indonesian Open quarter-final
By KNG ZHENG GUAN
PETALING JAYA: National backup shuttler Mohd Arif Abdul Latif had the perfect chance to make his first semi-final appearance of the year but blew it as he crashed out of the Indonesian Open GP Gold in Palembang yesterday.
The 23-year-old Arif, who had been playing well, looked good to seal a big win over fourth seed and world No.19 Dionysius Hayom Rumbaka after storming back from a game down to level the quarter-final tie 1-1.
But despite leading 17-11 and then 20-16, the speedy Seremban shuttler buckled under the Indo-nesian’s late onslaught and lost 10-21, 21-8, 20-22.
The 24-year-old Dionysius takes on sixth seeded compatriot Alamsyah Yunus in the semi-finals. Alamsyah stunned top seed Simon Santoso 21-17, 21-13.
In other matches, unheralded Gao Huan of China stunned third seed Tommy Sugiarto 21-16, 15-21, 21-16 while second seed Sho Sasaki was sent packing after losing to Sony Dwi Kuncoro in three games.
It was certainly a disappointing result for Arif, who has seen his world ranking drop a rung to No. 52 and is already lagging behind the likes of Chong Wei Feng (No. 26), Liew Daren (No. 27) and Mohd Hafiz Hashim (No. 38).
With his exit, Malaysia’s challenge in the tournament came to an end as Misbun Ramdan Misbun, Iskandar Zulkarnian Zainuddin and Goh Soon Huat had crashed out a day earlier.
Nevertheless, national singles backup coach Hendrawan believes there are many positives to take home.
“Arif was very unlucky especially with the last point,” said Hendrawan in a text message.
“It was a fairly standard game and he played well to match Dionysius but, in the end, it was the lack of experience which made the difference.
“Still, my boys performed admirably here as all of them displayed good fighting spirit despite losing.
“The likes of Iskandar, Soon Huat and Ramdan all managed to push their much higher ranked opponents to three matches before losing, that’s a marked improvement.
“They just need more time and exposure. It wouldn’t be long before they step up. We are on the right track,” added Hendrawan.
The shuttlers return home today but will not have much time to rest as they depart for the Taiwan Open (Oct 2-7) tomorrow.