KUALA LUMPUR: Singles shuttler Mohd Hafiz Hashim has given himself one more year to try and salvage his badminton career.
And, this time, the person behind his comeback is his new-born baby girl.
Hafiz resumed training a week ago and will compete in the back-to-back Malaysian and Korean Opens.
The Malaysian Open, which serves as the season opener of the Super Series, will begin on Wednesday at the Putra Stadium in Bukit Jalil and it will be followed with the Open in Seoul.
Hafiz had been busy since the birth of Hanna Sofileah in November — keeping late nights with his wife Nadzatul Shima Mohd Nazari to take care of their baby girl.
After a turbulent two years — Hafiz is giving himself a final chance to see whether he can regain the brilliance that saw him win the All-England in 2003.
“The first two tournaments in Malaysia and South Korea are important to me. I need to build on my world rankings again,” said Hafiz, who is world No. 36.
“I have just started training and may not be able to achieve outstanding results. But I hope things will pick up from here.”
He needs to do well to be considered for the All-England in March. And he will also have to get into the top 16 in order to represent the country at the World Championships in August in India. “I do not want to experience another 2008 all over again. There were too many poor results and too many problems (on contract issues with his former professional club Nusa Mahsuri),” said Hafiz.
“But everything has settled down for me. Now, I have the itch to win titles again. Besides, I want my baby girl to be proud of her father. I want to be in good shape for the All-England and the World Championships.”
Hafiz, however, knows that he can’t keep on finding excuses for his under-achievement.
“This is an important year for me as far as my future in badminton is concerned.
“If I continue to perform below par, I will stop playing and look at other options — maybe coaching,” said Hafiz, who last won a title two years ago in the Philippines.
Hafiz is counting on the youngsters to keep him on his toes.
“For now, the back-up players are unable push the seniors — especially at the international stage.
“They do well in local tournaments but somehow freeze on the international arena. Hopefully, we can push each other (the seniors and juniors) to take our game to greater heights,” he said.
In the Malaysian Open, Hafiz has been drawn in the same quarter with top seed and defending champion Lee Chong Wei. He will likely have to beat Indonesian Simon Santoso to make the last eight.