Hafiz, Gillian Secure Breakthrough Wins at Malaysian Open

After enduring several near misses, Hafiz Zainuddin finally shed his bridesmaid tag by claiming the men’s Open crown at the Malaysian Open on Sunday. The 24-year-old put last year’s heartbreak behind him, defeating senior compatriot Syafiq Ridhwan Abdul Malek 234-192 in the sudden-death playoff at the Sunway Mega Lanes in Bandar Sunway. Syafiq had earlier won 213-167, but being the top seed in the stepladder finals, Hafiz had the privilege of activating a second game under the 1+1 format. Last year, Hafiz also made the final but lost to Rafiq Ismail.


In February, Hafiz came close to tasting his first international Open event success when he emerged runner-up at the DIBC-Delta Open. Elated after his victory in his seventh year with the national team, Hafiz said: “Today’s (yesterday) victory is meaningful as it is my first career victory after seven years in the national team. “There’s no better way to do it than in front of my family. All of them were present today,” said Hafiz, who cashed in the top prize of RM50,000. “I hope this long-awaited breakthrough will open the door to more success after this.” Hafiz made the top three cut for the stepladder finals in style after finishing first in the eight-game roll-off earlier in the morning. He amassed 1,874 pinfalls to finish ahead of Syafiq (1,764) and Wan Muhd Zarif Ikram Wan Mazlan (1,760). In the one-game semi-final, Syafiq clinched a narrow 194-180 win over Zarif. Hafiz believes the win will give him a head start in his bid to secure a spot in the six-man squad for the Asian Championships in Thailand in October. “There’s no way I can feel at ease after just one win. We’ve still got the Thailand Open and Singapore Open in the coming months, each offering internal ranking points, which coaches will use to select a team for the Asian Championships,” explained Hafiz. Gillian Lim won the women’s crown, denying fellow Sarawakian Lavinia Kho a successful title defence. Gillian edged top-seeded Lavinia in the first game 219-199 and then 235-196 in the sudden-death playoff to clinch the RM30,000 winner’s cheque. Gillian, as the third seed, defeated Natasha Roslan 257-198 in the semi-final. “This is my first-ever title after four years with the senior team, and it’s a huge relief,” said the 25-year-old. “I was very nervous prior to the stepladder finals, knowing that I had to face my senior Natasha, a world champion, and then Lavinia, who’s the defending champion,” said Gillian. “I’m very happy to win today, but it’s back to square one after this because I want to strive for further success. There will be the Singapore Open next, and I can’t wait to take on the formidable Singaporean competitors in their backyard. “I want to keep improving and become a better bowler.”

Courtesy from – New Straits Times