Wed, Jan 17, 2007 - Page 19 News List

Badminton gets its grudge match

AFP , KUALA LUMPUR

The international badminton season gets under way this week at the Malaysian Open with a grudge match between bad boy Taufik Hidayat and world No. 1 Lin Dan kicking it off.

The pair have been drawn in the first round of the tournament today, which is the first of 13 Super Series events that culminate in a grand final in December.

Organizers could not have asked for more, with tensions still simmering between the two, sparked by an astonishing personal attack on Lin by Hidayat at the Asian Games last month where he called him arrogant and unfriendly.

The Indonesian world No. 12, who has earned a reputation as the bad boy of the game, rubbed salt into the Chinese star's wounds by beating him in the singles final.

Lin declined to attend the post-match news conference, where the world champion would have had to sit next to Hidayat.

Their dispute stems from the Hong Kong Open last September where Hidayat stormed out of their quarter-final after just five points over a disputed line call.

The Malaysian tournament gives Lin the chance to avenge the loss and claw back his pride, although Olympic champion Hidayat seems keen to bury the hatchet.

"I will try and enjoy my match against Lin at the Malaysia Open," he said. "I haven't set any targets for the Super Series."

World No. 2 and local hero Lee Chong Wei is defending his title and has found himself on the right side of the draw, avoiding Hidayat, Lin and Peter Gade.

He has to overcome German giant Bjoern Joppien in the first round, before a potential clash with China's Bao Chunlai, who beat him in the world championship semi-finals.

In the women's event, China's Zhang Ning and Xie Xingfang, Lin's girlfriend who waded into the Hidayat spat in Doha by calling the Indonesian "cold" and "rude," are the drawcards.

Zhang starts against South Korea's Hwang Hye-youn while Xie plays Eriko Hirose of Japan in her opening match.

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