PETALING JAYA: Evergreen Muhd Hafiz Hashim could be the short-term solution to Malaysian badminton’s men’s singles crisis.
The 32-year-old former All-England winner is definitely on a roll of late.
He played a starring role for his club Cheras BC in the Kopiko Purple League – winning 11 out of 12 matches, with former world No. 5 Nguyen Tien Minh of Vietnam and Japan’s Thomas Cup winner Kento Momota among his victims.
On Wednesday, Hafiz proved that those victories were no fluke.
The Kopiko Purple League may have adopted an 11-point, best-of-five games scoring system, but Hafiz showed he can perform equally well in the 21-point format.
Playing in his first Open tournament since March 2014, world No. 973 Hafiz thrashed world No. 356 Cheng Po-wei of Taiwan 21-14, 21-11 in the second round of the China Masters Grand Prix Gold in Changzhou.
It took Hafiz barely half an hour to set up his next clash against reigning world junior champion Lin Gui Pu of China.
It will be Hafiz’s second encounter against the 18-year-old Gui Pu, having beaten the 2014 Nanjing Youth Olympics silver medallist at the Vietnam Open in 2013.
“It’s surely a morale-boosting start for me after not competing in the singles event for such a long time in an Open tournament,” said Hafiz.
“My great run of form in the Purple League has spurred me to make a comeback in the singles event. I’ve been playing a lot of doubles ... now I think it’s worth giving it (singles) a thought.
“I’m aiming to improve on my ranking and this is a good week to do so. It’s not easy for me to get accepted to play in a GP Gold-level event (third highest after Superseries Premier and Superseries). I have to make the most of it.”
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