KUALA TERENGGANU: Back-up singles player Mohd Arif Abdul Latif stunned second seed Tan Chun Seang in the semi-finals of the National Circuit Grand Prix Finals at Stadium Negeri here yesterday.
Arif snatched a 18-21, 21-15, 21-9 victory with a do-or-die attitude yesterday to set up his first ever appearance in the final of a GP Finals, where he will face world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei today.
Yesterday, Arif took a fairly relaxed approach in the first game and it led to him making many unforced errors to allow Chun Seang to win 21-18.
However, Arif bounced back in the second game by mixing his game and towards the tailend of the game, Chun Seang conceded three points in a row to lose at 15-21.
It was touch and go in the rubber game until Chun Seang disputed a call by the line judge with Arif leading at 13-8.
The game was stopped for almost a minute and when it resumed Chun Seang was unable to gather himself and he gave away many easy points to Arif who won 21-9 to reach the final.
“My initial target was to qualify for the semi-finals. I never thought about reaching the final,” said Arif.
His appearance in today’s final will surely impress the Badminton Association of Malaysia’s (BAM) coaching and training committee who are looking for a player to fill the void left by former All-England singles champion Mohd Hafiz Hashim.
Arif, however, was quick to say that he still has a long way to go before he can fill anyone’s shoes in the elite set-up.
“I think I have improved a lot since these two years training under coach Hendrawan. But it doesn’t mean that my standard is already at par with the elite players.
“I’m fitter and quicker now after working with Hendrawan but I can’t say that I’m the most qualified player to be promoted to the senior team.”