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WUHAN, China: Kenichi Tago beat his idol Taufik Hidayat on the way to Japan’s win over Indonesia in the quarter-finals of badminton’s Thomas Cup on Wednesday, setting up a likely clash with hot favourites China.
The 22-year-old Japanese shuttler, who has shot to number eight in the world this year, confidently dispatched Hidayat, a gold medallist at the Athens 2004 Olympics and former world number two, but now ranked 12 in the world.
“Taufik is my idol. But because the Thomas Cup is a team competition, it is nation against nation on court, so I could see him as my enemy,” Tago said after his 21-12, 21-17 victory and second career win over the fiery Indonesian.
“But after the match, he is my idol again,” he said.
The 30-year-old Hidayat, who is contemplating retirement after the London Games, said it was normal for young players to beat him now, but held back on sharing Tago’s joy.
“If I lose to an Indonesian youngster I am happy, but I am not happy to lose to a Japanese youngster,” he said, while praising Tago for his calm and control.
Hosts China play Malaysia later Wednesday in Wuhan for the right to take on Japan in the semis.
“Japan never wins against China so it is hard to say (for the semis). But Japanese players have the fighting spirit,” said Noriyasu Hirata, who beat the first Indonesian doubles in two games with his partner Hirokatsu Hashimoto.
China will be fully expected to see off Malaysia, especially after the Malaysians lost world number one Lee Chong Wei to an ankle injury that threatens his Olympic hopes.
In the second Thomas Cup quarter-final of the early session, traditional European powerhouses Denmark went through easily 3-0 against the emerging force that is Russia.
In the women’s competition, the Uber Cup, China showed no mercy against a plucky German side, finishing them off 3-0 but not without dropping a number of points and one game. -- AFP