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Friday January 4, 2013

Arif is back from injury layoff and raring for action

PETALING JAYA: A bulky Mohd Arif Abdul Latif is raring for action after recovering from the back injury which forced him out of the National GP Finals last month.

The 23-year-old Arif has always relied on his speed, with his best result being a quarter-final appearance in the Hong Kong Open last November.

But his slight frame also meant he was prone to injuries, with the latest setback being the back injury suffered during the India Open GP Gold last month.

Now that he has fully recovered and all bulked up, Arif is to get going again when the six-day Malaysian Open begins on Jan 15.

“I did put on a bit of weight and hitting the gym at the National Sports Council (NSC) a lot more,” said Arif.

“My main weakness is my physical condition ... so, I’ve taken a few measures to shape up. Hopefully, that will also help improve my game.”

Arif, who is skipping the Korean Open from Jan 8-13, has set himself a target of breaking into the top 15 this year.

The world No. 33 will take on Indonesia’s Sony Dwi Kuncoro in the first round of the Malaysian Open and an upset over the eighth seed will probably pit him against another Indonesian – the experienced Alamsyah Yunus.

If he gets past Alamsyah, fourth seed Sho Sasaki of Japan awaits in the quarter-finals.

“I’m quite confident of my chances against Sony. He’s a good player but too inconsistent of late,” said Arif.

“It’s 50-50, but if I start well, there’s no reason why I can’t beat him.

“I’m really looking forward to breaking into the top 15 of the world rankings this year and I’m targeting at least a quarter-final finish in my home tournament.”

Another reason why Arif’s keen on moving up the rankings is the chance to feature in the World Championships, which will be held in Guangzhou in August.

A country can send three players to the world meet provided all are in the top 24. Right now, Lee Chong Wei (world No. 1), Liew Daren (No. 16) and Chong Wei Feng (No. 21) are ahead of Arif.

That should be motivation enough for him.

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