Fri, Nov 30, 2007 - Page 24 News List

Taufik Hidayat sets up clash with No. 1 Lin Dan

AFP , HONG KONG

Olympic champion Taufik Hidayat battled through a tough second game yesterday to set up a crunch Hong Kong Open clash with his arch-rival, world No. 1 Lin Dan.

The Indonesian former world champion saw off repeated assaults by South Korea's Park Sung-hwan before prevailing 21-12, 21-19 in front of an appreciative crowd.

China's Lin earlier thumped Shoji Sato of Japan 21-15, 21-11 to book his quarter-final berth against Hidayat -- badminton's equivalent of McEnroe versus Connors.

"That was lucky," Hidayat grinned. "It was a difficult match. The first game was easy so I thought I would win quickly, but the second was slower and it was hard to keep focused."

The notoriously fiery Hidayat stunned spectators here last year when he stormed out of his quarter-final match with "Super Dan" in protest at a disputed line call.

It was one in a long line of incidents between the two, culminating in a furious verbal spat at last year's Asian Games.

But Hidayat said there would be no repeat of the histrionics and stressed he was on good terms with the Chinese star.

"I'm not thinking about that. Forget it, it was crazy," he said of last year's incident. "We don't talk much because we don't speak the same language. The relationship is good. We say hello but we never talk."

Hidayat was in exhibition mode in the opening game against Park -- Lin's first-round conqueror at the China Open last week -- playing behind his back and making some impossible saves.

But the elegant Indonesian was forced to dig deep in the second, producing his full range of lightning defense, disguised drops and confusing net play before finishing off the tenacious Park with an overhead.

The two-time Asian Games champion has not beaten Lin since the 2005 world final and he admitted Lin would be the favorite today.

"Now Lin Dan is on top so I think it will be difficult, but I will try," Hidayat said. "I will talk with my coach tonight about how to play."

Lin was typically bullish after seeing off Sato's early resistance with a series of heavy overheads and bewitching court craft that frequently sent his exasperated opponent sprawling.

"I've beaten him [Hidayat] a lot recently so I'm quite confident," Lin said. "I would have preferred to play Park, because he beat me last week. That was a bit of a surprise."

In other results, China Open champion Bao Chunlai was forced out his match against Malaysia's Muhammad Roslin Hashim with a right ankle injury, while Denmark's Tine Rasmussen surprised French fifth seed Pi Hongyan.

The US$250,000 Hong Kong Open is the last leg of badminton's inaugural Super Series. A planned Masters Final in Qatar was canceled as a result of a lack of sponsorship.

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