TheStar KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s second ranked singles player Mohd Hafiz Hashim has been placed in the same half of the draw with world number one Lin Dan for the World Badminton Championships in Anaheim, California, from Aug 15-21. But the Chinese is not the only one that Hafiz’s coach Misbun Sidek is preoccupied with as he goes into the strategy-planning stage for his charge after the draw was made on Friday. Misbun warned yesterday that the early round hurdles would be just as tough. From the draw made on Friday night, the eighth seeded Hafiz opens against Iran’s Kaveh Mehrabi but could be facing Indonesian-born Singapore player Ronald Susilo in the second round. If he gets past Ronald, Hafiz’s next opponent is likely to be South Korea’s Lee Hyun-il. Although Hafiz defeated Ronald in the semi-finals en route to winning the Thailand Open title early this year, Misbun cautioned against his charge being too optimistic. “Roland is an attacking player. Although Hafiz has the winning edge based on current form, it will not be easy. Hafiz has to play a smart game. “Even Hyun-il is not an easy player, although Hafiz beat him in their last meeting (in the Asian Championships) last year. He is South Korea’s top player and a fierce fighter on court,” said Misbun. The 22-year-old Hafiz has reasons to stay focused from the early rounds. His past record against the two players is not that good. Hafiz lost on three previous meetings to Ronald before finally tasting victory in the Thailand Open. A close affair is also expected between Hafiz and the former Japan Open champion Hyun-il. Hafiz lost three times in a row to the Korean player before chalking up a rubber game win in the third round of the Asian Championships held here last year “These first two rounds are very tough. Let’s not think first about whether Hafiz has a chance against Lin Dan. “He must concentrate on clearing the early test against Ronald first.” Misbun added that a lot of preparation work would be needed to get Hafiz, a right-hander, for the possibility of facing two southpaws in Hyun-il and Lin Dan. “The only sparring partners in the national team who are lefthanders are Lee Tsuen Seng and Wong Choong Hann. But I have been preparing him from early on. God willing, he will be okay.” Hafiz, who was a second round casualty to elder brother Roslin Hashim in the world meet in Birmingham two years ago, said he was not surprised by the draw. “It is something I expected. I know I have to be prepared to face anybody,” said Hafiz, who won the Swiss and Thailand Opens this year.