By RAJES PAUL
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian singles shuttler Mohd Hafiz Hashim played an attacking game to end the gallant run of Nguyen Tien Minh and reach the quarter-finals of the Hong Kong Open yesterday.
He battled for 53 minutes to outlast the seventh-seeded Vietnamese 20-22, 21-19, 21-19 and set up an all-Malaysian last eight clash against top seed Lee Chong Wei today.
The sensational win yesterday has certainly given the lanky Hafiz a timely boost ahead of the SEA Games in Laos next month.
Tien Minh has been hailed as an emerging force for the SEA Games individual gold following his steady rise this year.
He had won the Thailand, Taiwan and Vietnam Opens. He even disposed of Hafiz easily en route to winning the Taiwan Open last month.
National singles coach Hendrawan was happy with the unseeded Hafiz’s show of aggression and will to win yesterday.
“It was an important win for Hafiz – especially after the disappointments in Europe.
“He fought hard for every point,” Hendrawan said in a telephone interview.
World No. 28 Hafiz crashed out in the second round of the recent back-to-back Super Series events in Denmark and France, losing to Marc Zwiebler of Germany and Indonesia’s Taufik Hidayat respectively.
“After losing easily to Tien Minh at the Taiwan Open, Hafiz’s victory today shows that his will to win has not wavered,” said Hendrawan.
“We hope he will continue to work his way up and be in better form at the Laos SEA Games.”
Team manager Tony Tan, who is the Penang BA secretary, said that Chong Wei did not show any sign of his knee problem in the 21-16, 21-18 demolition of Chinese youngster Du Pengyu in the second round yesterday.