By : K.M. Boopathy
ARIF Latif continued his remarkable run in the Asian Junior Championships by storming into the boys’ singles final on a day where Malaysian shuttlers reached three other finals at the Juara Stadium in Bukit Kiara yesterday.
Arif, who was only a semi-finalist last year, defeated Japan’s Riichi T. 21-19, 21-18 in 40 minutes.
Giant killer Lim Fang Yang, who eliminated defending champion Kenichi Tago of Japan on Friday, could not make it a grand day for Malaysia when he fell 21-2, 21-11 to Chen Long of China.
However, Arif’s exploits in the singles took its toll on him as he and Vountus Indra Mawan fell in the boys’ doubles semi-finals to China’s Chai Biao-Li Tian 22-20, 21-15.
Arif feels he has a realistic chance against Chen Long in the final today, having gained a psychological edge in beating him in the mixed team final on Wednesday.
Malaysia’s Tan Wee Kiong maintained his great form in the tournament when he advanced to the boys’ and mixed doubles finals.
Wee Kiong and Lutfi Zaim Khalid are only ranked third in the national junior squad but in the boys’ semi-finals, they were in top form against Qiu Zihan-Zhang Nan of China, winning 21-10, 21-13. The Malaysians should hold their own against Chai Biao-Li Tian in the final.
In the mixed doubles, top seeded Wee Kiong-Woon Khe Wei were tested for the first time in the tournament but remained solid to down China’s Qiu Zihan-Lin Chen 21-15, 21-23, 21-15 in 45 minutes to advance to the final for the second consecutive time.
However, Lim Khim Wah-Ng Hui Lin could not make it an all-Malaysia final as they fell to South Koreans Shin Baek Cheol-Yoo Hyun Young 21-15, 21-11. Wee Kiong-Khe Wei, who lost to Lee Yong Dae-Hyun Young last year, have a realistic chance of winning Malaysia’s first title in the event.
Lydia Cheah failed in her bid to reach the final after losing 16-21, 21-14, 21-11 to Singapore’s second seed Gu Juan. The Malaysian made amends by clinching a surprise final spot in the girls’ doubles.
Lydia and her partner Tee Jing Yee, both singles players, beat top seeds Yoo Hyun Young-Jung Kyung Eun of South Korea 14-21, 21-17, 21-18 to become only the second national pair since Lim Pek Siah-Chor Hooi Yee in 1997 to reach the final.
They will take on Indonesia’s Puspita Richi Dili-Debby Susanto, who beat Yao Lei-Fu Mingtian of Singapore 21-10, 21-17, for the title today.
Results — (All s-finals)
Chen Long (Chn) bt Lim Fang Yang (Mas) 21-2, 21-11;
Arif Latif (Mas) bt Riichi T. (Jpn) 21-19, 21-18.
Tan Wee Kiong-Lutfi Zaim Khalid (Mas) bt Qiu Zihan-Zhang Nan (Chn) 21-10, 21-13;
Chai Biao-Li Tian (Chn) bt Arif Latif-Vountus Indra Mawan (Mas) 22-20, 21-15.
Liu Xin (Chn) bt Fu Mingtian (Sin) 24-22, 21-11;
Gu Juan (Sin) bt Lydia Cheah (Mas) 16-21, 21-14, 21-11.
Lydia Cheah-Tee Jing Yee (Mas) bt Yoo Hyun Young-Jung Kyung Eun (S Kor) 14-21, 21-17, 21-18;
Puspita Richi Dili-Debby Susanto (Ina) bt Yao Lei-Fu Mingtian (Sin) 21-10, 21-17.
Tan Wee Kiong-Woon Khe Wei (Mas) bt Qiu Zihan-Lin Chen (Chn) 21-15, 21-23, 21-15;
Shin Baek Cheol-Yoo Hyun Young (S Kor) bt Lim Khim Wah-Ng Hui Lin (Mas) 21-15, 21-11.