Taufik Hidayat didn’t have a good feeling about his group-stage draw.
His instincts were proven right on Wednesday, after the former world champion crumbled in the clutch and lost in two sets to Bao Chunlai of China in their opening match at the season-ending Super Series Masters Finals in Johor Baru, Malaysia.
Down one set and just a point shy of extending the match to a deciding third set, Taufik instead saw Bao string together four consecutive points en route to a 21-18, 26-24 victory at Bandaraya Indoor Stadium.
Indonesia went 0-2 on the day after Alvent Yulianto Chandra and Hendra Aprida Gunawan dropped a 21-16, 21-18 decision to Carsten Mogensen and Mathias Boe of Denmark in men’s doubles action.
Taufik, ranked No. 9 in the world and seeded fifth in the tournament, was ahead 20-17 in the second set, but Bao, the No. 4 seed, stepped up his pace, leaving Indonesia’s lone singles bet shaking his head after the 45-minute match.
“That was bad, really bad, letting the opponent catch up like that,” Taufik, 28, said. “I was rushing to end the set. I did my best to win, but I still lost in the end.”
Taufik’s headaches aren’t likely to end soon. His next match is against world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia, who has beaten Taufik three times this season.
Another loss would prove disastrous to Taufik’s chances of advancing. Only the top two players in each of the two groups will progress to the semifinals.
“I have to admit that playing in [Group A] is hard,” Taufik said. “But I believe there’s always a chance. Of course I have to beat Lee, and if I can’t do that, then I’m heading home early.”
Taufik is searching for his first Super Series title of the year, his first season after leaving the Indonesian national team. His best performances were runner-up finishes in Indonesia, Japan and France.
Two other matches featuring Indonesian shuttlers finished after press time on Wednesday.
Rian Sukmawan and Yonathan Suryatama Dasuki were up against Xu Chen and Guo Zhendong of China in men’s doubles, while the mixed doubles tandem of Hendra and Vita Marissa were scheduled to play Songphon Anugritayawon and Kunchala Voravichitchaikul of Thailand.
In other results, men’s No. 2 seed Peter Hoeg Gade cruised to an easy 21-12, 21-15 victory over fellow Dane Jan O Jorgensen in Group B.
“It is a good start for me,” Gade said. “I used my mental strength to overcome Jorgensen, who has improved tremendously over the last few months.”
Meanwhile, in men’s doubles, the Malaysian pair of Mohd Fairuzizuan Mohd Tazari and Mohd Zakry Abdul Latif put on a strong performance in beating countrymen Koo Kien Keat and Tan Boon Heong 21-15, 21-17.