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Wednesday February 13, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Wednesday April 17, 2013 MYT 12:13:12 AM
by rajes paul
KUALA LUMPUR: Elite men’s singles shuttler Mohd Arif Abdul Latif heads for his maiden All-England trip in Birmingham next month brimming with promise and hope.
Last year, the 23-year-old was dropped by the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) for the All-England as punishment for his below-par performance in the Thomas Cup qualifying tournament.
Arif took the decision badly but never gave up.
The punishment had its desired effect as Arif stepped up his game to reach his first Super Series quarter-finals at the Hong Kong Open in October, where he defeated world No. 15 Hu Yun.
Then last week, Arif defeated world No. 19 Wong Wing Ki in the decider to give the Malaysian Tigers Badminton Club a superb 3-2 victory over the Jaya Raya Suryanaga team in the semi-finals of the Indonesian Super League.
His performances caught the eyes of his coaches and now he is even hoping to challenge compatriots Liew Daren and Chong Wei Feng for a spot in the World Championships in Guangzhou, China, in August.
Arif is currently in 35th spot – behind Lee Chong Wei (world No. 1), Daren (No. 12) and Wei Feng (No. 18).
A country can have a maximum of three players if all are ranked in the top 24.
“I’m not the type to give up easily. I was banned last year but now I get to play in the All-England for the first time. I’ll begin from the qualifying rounds but I’m hopeful of a good start,” said Arif.
The All-England will be held from March 5-10.
He has also been named for the Swiss Open (March 12-17) and is being considered for the Australian Open Grand Prix Gold (April 2-7) and India Open (April 23-28).
“I have until the end of April to improve my world ranking and fight for a spot in the world meet. My coach (Hendrawan) said that if I can play consistently in the next few tournaments, I can climb up the ladder. I know that only three players will make the cut but I’m not throwing in the towel just yet,” said Arif.
“I hope to make the top 15 by the end of this year. I’m determined to make this year the best in my career.
“I also want to be in the team for next year’s Thomas Cup Finals. I intend to take my game to greater heights and have set a personal target of winning a couple of titles this year. Daren and Wei Feng did well last year ... now it’s my turn to step it up.”
Last year, Daren won the French Open while Wei Feng reached his first Super Series semi-finals at the China Open.
With Arif now ready to do better than Daren and Wei Feng, a keen three-way rivalry is taking shape in the men’s singles department.
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