By Rajes Paul
World champion Lin Dan of China won the battle of maestros with an outstanding show in the mens singles first round of the Malaysian Open at the Kuala Lumpur Badminton Stadium here yesterday.
The major section of 5,000 capacity crowd was obviously rooting for Olympic champion Taufik Hidayat of Indonesia but the world number one Lin Dan broke their hearts to win the epic first round match 21-19, 23-21 in 41 minutes.
Lin Dan now has an impressive 8-4 record against the Indonesian.
|China's world champion Lin Dan prevailed in the battle of the supremos when he ousted Olympic champion Taufik Hidayat of Indonesia 21-19, 23-21 in the opening round of the Malaysian Open badminton championships. |
The quality of the match was not exactly as great as the Asian Games final battle in Doha between the two just a month ago where Taufik emerged champion but it was good enough to keep the spectators on their seats, at least in the closing stages of the second game.
Taufik took a 16-11 lead an often insurmountable lead in the 21-point rally format but Lin Dan smashed his way back to force deuce at 20-20. Taufik then brought out all his magic but a soft tap into the net at the crucial moment saw Lin Dan winning 23-21.
Lin Dan was delighted with the win but did not want to raise his hopes too high now that the biggest hurdle was over.
As I expected, the level of the game was high but I think both of us could have played better. I still think the Asian Games was one level higher, said the 24-year-old Chinese.
But it always feels good to beat Taufik. The battle is not over yet for me. I may come across one of these players Kenneth (Jonassen), Peter (Gade-Christensen), Bao (Chunlai) and (Lee) Chong Wei. I will take it one match at a time, he added.
Lin Dan faces South Koreas Park Sung-hwan in the next round.
Taufik, who was playing catch-up throughout the first tight game, said he should have capitalised on the 16-11 lead in the second game.
I came close to forcing the rubber but I made mistakes by misjudging my shots. But credit should be given to Lin Dan. He played well today, admitted the two-time Asian Games champion.
Despite the defeat, Taufik took consolation that he had the support of the spectators.
It was an electrifying feeling to play in a stadium like this. The fans cheered me on and it shows that I did not play too badly, he said.
But I will not want to be in this same scenario again (of meeting a top player in the first round). I will be out to improve my world ranking.
My next target is to win the All-England. It is the only one missing from my collection, added the world number 12.
Meanwhile, it was a day of mixed fortunes for Malaysian singles players.
Malaysias Lee Chong Wei, Wong Choong Hann, Yeoh Kay Bin and Kuan Beng Hong are the only four players left standing in the challenge for honours at home.
Except for the three-time Malaysian Open winner Chong Wei, all the others will be up against Chinese opponents today. Choong Hann will take on Chen Jin, Beng Hong will face Bao Chunlai while Kay Bin meets Chen Yu.
Chong Wei, who beat Bjoern Joppien of Germany 21-14, 21-9 in just 25 minutes said: I was a bundle of nerves. I could have played better. Hopefully, I will improve in every game. He will face Polands Wacha Przemyslaw next.
The two casualties were Mohd Hafiz Hashim and Lee Tsuen Seng.
Hafiz had a tall order against Chinas fast-attacking player Chen Hong but after a good start, the 24-year-old player crashed out at 21-9, 13-21, 18-21.
Tsuen Seng lost to Indonesias Sony Dwi Kuncoro 18-21, 21-19, 17-21.
(source: The Star Online)