ARIF Latif, a national back-up shuttler, has been touted as one of the young stars of local badminton but to date has yet to make the grade and this does not augur well for his playing career.
Arif, 20, has not been performing to expectations despite being pushed to the limit by national singles coach Rashid Sidek.
He started the year by failing to make the main draw of the Proton Malaysia Open in January, but showed some promise in the Korea Open (January) where he reached the last 16.
Arif failed to build on the momentum in following tournaments where he failed to get past the first round of the German Open and India Open, both last month.
“I admit that I’m rather weak in the mental aspects of the game. I do really well in training but find it tough to make things happen in tournaments,” said Arif yesterday.
“I was one of the top juniors in Asia but now I’m nothing as a senior player.
“It’s not easy anymore and I will have to improve. I thank my coach (Rashid) for helping me but I need to prove to him that I can also achieve good results.”
Arif, who won last year’s Iran Fajr Open, hopes his fortunes would chance in the Asian Championships in Suwon, South Korea on April 7-12.
The World No 68 will open his campaign against World No 184 Liao Sheng Shiun of Taiwan, and a win will likely pit him against ninth seed Sho Sasaki of Japan.
“Based on my draw, it will be tough from the second round onwards. My target is the last-16 round and of course, a good result here will give me the confidence to build on,” he said.
The Asian meet is very important for the back-up elite shuttlers as the best performer in Suwon will be considered for next month’s Sudirman Cup in China.
The other shuttlers competing in the men’s singles are Hafiz Hashim, Kuan Beng Hong, Tan Chun Seang, Chong Wei Feng and Liew Daren.