Badminton: Hidayat rages at All-England's never-ending story
BIRMINGHAM (United Kingdom): Former world and Olympic champion Taufik Hidayat lashed out at the All-England Open’s scheduling after suffering a scare in the first round yesterday.
In a match starting almost three hours late, Taufik needed to save two game points in the opener and to recover from 13-15 in the second game in order to survive 25-23, 21-17 against Kevin Cordon of Guatemala.
Cordon, the first player from his country ever to reach a world quarter-final, seven months ago at Wembley, again impressed with his fierce, left-handed smash and enduring tenacity.
But Taufik was defensively tenacious too, as well as skilfully adept at escaping from tight corners, and afterwards voiced his criticisms of the organisation.
“I was so hungry because I had had to wait so long,” the Indonesian legend said.
“We need to eat at the right times, and I had to wait almost three hours to play. My hand was shaking.”
The All-England is operating under new Super Series regulations from the Badminton World Federation requiring it to use four and not five courts, which contributed to a schedule which went on into the early hours of Thursday.
“They also have too much delay between matches,” said Taufik. “But tomorrow I should have recovered and expect to be okay.” His draw gives him a possible quarter-final with Lin Dan, the Olympic and World champion from China.
Lin Dan made the next round, beating India’s Ajay Jayaram 21-18, 21-15.
Lin’s great rival, Lee Chong Wei, the top-seeded defending champion from Malaysia, came through with less difficulty against a more dangerous opponent.
The superbly fit Malaysian won 21-16, 21-11 against Wang Zhengming, a 22-year-old former world junior champion from Guangzhou who reached the verge of the top ten late last year. “It was the first day and the first match, so I had to adapt to the hall conditions, and I found him a formidable opponent. I was just happy to pull through,” said Lee.
He next plays Hans-Kristian Vittinghus, the Dane who reached the top 20 for the first time late last year, and who produced a fine win over Simon Santoso, the world number 11 from Indonesia, by 21-14, 8-21, 21-7.
Later there seemed to be an upset in the making when Chen Long, the third-seeded Asian Games champion, trailed by a game and 8-11 against Tommy Sugiarto, the unseeded Indonesian who is the son of former world champion Icuk Sugiarto.
At that stage Chen suddenly began to control the rallies better, taking eight points in a row.
Sugiarto struggled hard and got the deficit back to two points, but after losing that game quit with an injured foot. The Chinese player’s winning score was 18-21, 21-16 retired.
Four of the women’s singles title contenders also came through safely.
Top-seeded world champion Wang Yihan, the creative 24-year-old from Shanghai, survived a heavy fall halfway through the first game, and came through 21-11, 21-8 against Pai Hsaio Ma, the world number 25 from Taiwan.
Wang is now one win from a probable quarter-final rematch with Tine Baun, the Dane with whom she has played two All-England finals, winning one and losing one.
Baun admitted to being nervous in what is probably her last All-England but still recovered from 10-13 in the second game to win 21-15, 21-15 against Fu Mingtian, the world number 27 from Singapore.
Two other title contenders, Wang Shixian, the defending all-England champion from China, and Saina Nehwal, the fourth-seeded Commonwealth champion from India, also won, but in contrasting fashion.
Nehwal made heavy weather of a 21-11, 13-21, 21-13 win over Sapsiree Taerattanachi, a Thai qualifier.
Defending champion Wang Shixian won with unexpected ease, by 21-9, 21-15 against Taiwan’s Cheng Shao Chieh. -- AFP