Yang Li Lian made it to the main draw of the Singapore Open after beating Sweden's Matilda Petersen in the qualifying round on Tuesday. - Filepic
PETALING JAYA: Former national shuttler Mohd Arif Abdul Latif secured his best result in recent times by qualifying for the main draw of the Singapore Open.
The 24-year-old Arif who left the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) last July, first defeated Indonesia’s Siswanto 21-16, 21-11 before scoring a comprehensive win over local hope Ashton Chen, winning 21-18, 21-19 on Tuesday.
It was a massive boost for the Negri Sembilan-born Arif who has plummeted to No. 89 in the world despite winning his first career title - the Malaysian International Challenge last November.
Arif, who now trains under Indonesian coach Nova Armada at the One Badminton Academy, will meet India’s B. Sai Praneeth in the first round of the main draw.
“I’m definitely happy to win and get into the main draw because this will go a long way in helping my climb up the rankings,” said Arif, who reached a career-high of No. 30 in the world last year.
“I’m also doing well with my new club and my new coach who have been very supportive and this has made me more confident too. Hopefully, I’ll win another match tomorrow (today).”
Meanwhile, the men’s singles event has been hit by mass withdrawals, with top players - world No. 3 Kenichi Tago of Japan, world No. 4 and defending champion Tommy Sugiarto of Indonesia, world No. 6 Boonsak Ponsana of Thailand, world No. 15 Sony Dwi Kuncoro (Indonesia) and India’s world No. 30 R.M.V. Gurusaidutt all pulling out at the eleventh hour.
The withdrawals have worked to the advantage of independent shuttlers Tan Chun Seang and Misbun Ramdan Misbun, who earned a free passage into the main draw without lifting a racquet.
Chun Seang will face China’s Chen Yuekun in the first round while Ramdan will meet Hong Kong’s Hu Yun.
This also means world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei, who is seeking his fourth title of the year, will have a much easier run to the final.
The 31-year-old however still needs to be wary of the eighth-seeded Japanese youngster Kento Momota whom he is expected to face in the quarter-finals.
In the women’s singles, world No. 97 Yang Li Lian also earned a breakthrough by qualifying for the main draw.
The 21-year-old Li Lian, who is due to be called up for Uber Cup duty in May, defeated Sweden’s Matilda Petersen 21-16, 21-14 to earn herself a shot at taking on world No. 2 Wang Yihan of China in the main draw.