Wednesday, 18 June 2014 | MYT 8:51 PM
Arif steals the show in Jakarta
Mohd Arif Abdul Latif produced one of the best performances of his career to beat Japan's Kento Momota 21-19, 21-13 in the first round of the Indonesian Open on Wednesday. - File Pic
PETALING JAYA: Qualifier Mohd Arif Abdul Latif stole the limelight in the men’s singles first round of the Indonesian Open badminton championships at the Istora Senayan in Jakarta.
The 24-year-old Malaysian produced one of his best performances of his career to clinch a comprehensive 21-19, 21-13 victory over in-form world No. 11 Kento Momota of Japan on Wednesday.
Momota was one of the stars in Japan’s 3-2 win over Malaysia in the Thomas Cup final in New Delhi last month.
World No. 73 Arif is now just a step from matching his best achievement in a Superseries tournament, having reached the quarter-finals in Hong Kong Open in 2012.
But he must first get past third seed Jan O Jorgensen of Denmark, a semi-finalist at last week’s Japan Open.
“I was able to perform well today because there was no pressure on me. He forced me into long rallies. I was able to sustain and cope really well,” said Arif, who trains under Indonesian coach Nova Armada at One Badminton Academy in Kuala Lumpur.
“I will use the same approach tomorrow (today) – that’s to go out there and enjoy myself. I lost to Jorgensen once (at the 2011 Denmark Open), but I’m not going to worry about that,” he added.
Two other Malaysians – world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei and Chong Wei Feng – also made it to the second round.
Chong Wei opened his campaign for a sixth Indonesian title by brushing aside Sony Dwi Kuncoro 21-7, 21-11. It was the Malaysian’s fourth successive win over the Indonesian.
Chong Wei will face Frenchman Brice Leverdez, who famously stunned Japan’s No. 1 Kenichi Tago in the first singles at the Thomas Cup, for a place in the last eight.
Wei Feng came through the hard way. He fought back to beat world No. 13 Tian Houwei of China 11-21, 21-15, 21-8 to set up a second-round clash against fourth seed Tago.
World No. 24 Wei Feng has beaten Tago only once in five encounters.
“I need to find a way to overcome Kenichi, having lost three in a row. I believe I have what it takes to upset him if I get my tactics right,” he said.
In the women’s singles, Tee Jing Yi and Yang Li Lian also reached the second round.
Tee Jing Yi and Indonesian Hera Desi were involved in a long battle before the Malaysian prevailed 21-19, 30-28 while Li Lian beat American Jamie Subandhi 21-17, 21-17.