Tue, Aug 14, 2007 - Page 19 News List

Hidayat cruises into second round

AFP, KUALA LUMPUR

Indonesia's Taufik Hidayat keeps his eyes on the shuttle as he returns a shot by Spain's Jose Antonio Crespo during the first round of the Malaysian World Badminton Championships at the Putra Stadium in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

PHOTO: AFP

Olympic champion Taufik Hidayat cruised into the second round of the world badminton championships yesterday, and credited his easy win to his new-born daughter.

The Indonesian eighth seed wasted no energy in disposing of relatively unknown Spaniard Jose Antonio Crespo 21-13, 21-7 on day one of the championships in the Malaysian capital.

Hidayat, known as badminton's bad boy for his occasional outbursts on and off the court, said parenthood had defused his sometimes fiery temper.

"I think now I am more relaxed. I miss my baby, she is only 10 days old," the 26-year-old said.

The Asian Games champion said he wanted to win his second world title for his firstborn, but conceded he faced a tough fight on the road to the final.

"I don't know about my condition -- maybe 80 percent, 90 percent fit. We will have to wait and see," he said.

Barring major upsets, Hidayat is expected to meet world number one and defending champion Lin Dan in a quarter-final showdown later this week.

The pair have had a tense relationship since Hidayat called the Chinese star arrogant and unfriendly at the Asian Games last year.

Despite insisting he's mellowed, Hidayat hit out at the sport's governing body even before a shuttle had been struck, declaring before his match that the annual format had lost meaning.

"Imagine if World Cup football [soccer] or the Olympics were held every year [instead of once every four years]. They would lose much of their value," said Hidayat, who won the world singles title in 2005.

In other first round action, Commonwealth Games champion Tracey Hallam from England had a tough battle against Malaysia's Lydia Cheah Li Ya in the women's singles.

Hallam, seeded 16, easily took the first game 21-16, before the Malaysian mounted a fightback, winning the second 21-19, much to the delight of the small but vocal home-town crowd.

But veteran Hallam, 32, came out firing in the third and closed out the match 21-11 with a smash back at the Malaysian's body.

"I thought I had it and obviously she fought back -- all credit to her -- so I knew I had to come out hard in the third set," Hallam said.

Malaysian mixed doubles pair Chan Peng Soon and Haw Chiou Hwee got their world championship campaign off to a flying start, downing Belgium's Wouter Claes and Nathalie Descamps 21-18, 21-7.

Most of the star shuttlers have first round byes and take to the courts later in the week.

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