JOHOR BARU: It’s the battle for a place in the men’s singles final against national and world number one Lee Chong Wei in the Johor Open badminton championships that is generating more interest.
And youngster Mohd Arif Abdul Latif is determined to win it. The 19-year-old beat Zairul Hafiz Zainuddin 21-16, 21-11 in the quarter-finals at the Bandaraya Stadium here last night.
And he will be making his second successive semi-final appearance in the national badminton circuit after the Penang Open in August where he lost to veteran Roslin Hashim. But Arif is hoping to go one step better tonight when he takes on Chong Wei Feng.
Wei Feng, who is also being groomed by singles coach Rashid Sidek for the 2012 London Olympics, beat Liew Daren 21-15, 21-18 to reach the semi-finals.
In their only meeting thus far, Wei Feng beat Arif to lift the Sukma (Malaysia Games) boys’ singles gold medal in Kuala Terengganu in June.
“I have not really been taken to the distance in my matches here,” said Arif, who was a member of the Malaysian team for the Thomas Cup Finals in Jakarta in May.
“I expect tomorrow’s match against Wei Feng to be a close affair because we always train together. We know each other’s game well and I hope to clear one more hurdle.”
Top seed Chong Wei can afford to take it easy as he bids to continue his domination in the local circuit.
Chong Wei chalked an easy 21-10, 21-5 win over training partner Chan Kwong Beng to reach the semi-final, which ensured him a place in the National Grand Prix Finals in Alor Star next month. He will play against Kuan Beng Hong today. Beng Hong defeated Lim Fang Yang 21-17, 21-4.
Chong Wei skipped the Penang Open after bagging the silver medal in the Beijing Olympics in August and needed to secure a semi-final appearance here to get the chance to go one better on his mentor, Misbun Sidek, in winning national titles.
Chong Wei equalled Misbun’s record of six titles when he beat Tan Chun Seang in the 2007 edition in Alor Star early this year.
Wong Mew Choo and Julia Wong remained on course to set up a final between the country’s top two female singles players.
Top seed Mew Choo defeated Bukit Jalil Sports School’s Tiffany Chase Currier 21-11, 21-6 while second seed Julia overcame Stephanie Shalini 21-18, 21-15.