Primastuti Handayani, The Jakarta Post, Madrid
Defending champion Taufik Hidayat of Indonesia survived a test posed by Kestutis Navickas of Lithuania in the second round of the 2006 World Badminton Championships here Wednesday.
His compatriots cruised to the next round, except for women's singles Fransisca Ratnasari who had to pack up early.
Taufik, whose ranking dropped to 31 after his absence from several tournaments due to back and knee injuries, missed a lot of chances in the first game before losing 19-21.
"I warmed up properly. I thought I could do it on the court just like I usually do in the early rounds (of competitions). I was overconfident but Navickas surprised me and I lost the first game," the 25-year-old said in a post-match conference.
Taufik, however, regained his confidence and composure and dictated the direction of his next game against Navickas to win 21-15, 21-10.
"I had trouble with the draft but I guess all players also have it, so that's not an excuse."
"I was underperforming today. I spent too much time adjusting myself to the court."
The 2004 Olympics gold medalist will likely face Chen Hong of China in the quarterfinals. Taufik has led 7-1 in their eight meets since 1998. The only time Chen won over Taufik was at the 2005 Japan Open.
"I've won most of my matches against Chen Hong and I think he's highly motivated about defeating me," he said. "I must win tomorrow."
Taufik's junior Sony Dwi Kuncoro got off to a shaky start in his second-round match against Andrew Smith of England, being down 5-13 before leveling the score to 19-19 and concluding the first game 21-19. In the second game, he handled the pressure better, winning 21-13.
"It wasn't my best performance. It was far below par," Sony said. "I had a problem with the draft in the first game. Everything I did was wrong and Andrew was good with his smashes."
Hoping to perform better in the third round, Sony expressed his ambition to tame his next rival Bao Chunlai of China. The Chinese have won all their four encounters since their World Junior Championships final in Guangzhou, China, six years ago.
"I have every reason to seek revenge," Sony said. "I really hope I play much better tomorrow."
Men's doubles world No. 9 Luluk Hadiyanto/Alvent Yulianto managed to break their first-match wary by winning quite convincingly against Australians Glenn Warfe/Ross Smith 21-11, 21-19.
Luluk/Alvent started the match easily to set a wide gap in the first game before it was disrupted with several poor service calls, especially when Luluk was holding the serve. But they improved in the second game.
"The service judge said the players', especially Luluk's services, were too high," coach Herry Imam Pierngadi said. "They have to be better in the next match."
Alvent had said earlier that the doubles often had a problem in their first match, especially after the International Badminton Federation (IBF) implemented the new best-of-three 21-point rally scoring system. They succumbed in early rounds during the tune-up tournaments of the Korea and Hong Kong Open late August and early September, respectively.
The Indonesian pair — keen to follow in the footsteps of their seniors in winning the world champion crowns — will meet the winner between Roman Spitko/Michael Fuchs of Germany and host doubles Jose Antonio Crespo/Nicolas Escartin Ara, who play later on Wednesday. Indonesia has won the men's doubles title six times in 1977, 1980, 1993, 1995, 1997 and 2001.
Mixed doubles defending champion Nova Widianto/Lilyana Natsir barely sweat it out to clear their first hurdles by winning 21-11, 21-10 against Neven Rihtar/Maja Savor of Croatia.
"It's been quite easy but still we need to play better tomorrow," said Lilyana, who received a bye in the first round.
The Indonesians will meet the winner between Koo Kien Keat/Wong Pei Tty of Malaysia and Hendra Wijaya/Fan Frances Liu of Singapore.
But it was a different fate for Nana. Trailing tightly with Wong Mew Choo of Malaysia in the first game, Nana easily lost the second being controlled by her opponent 19-21, 8-21 in just 28 minutes.
"I made too many unforced errors. It was very tight in the first game and I should have won it but I failed. The second game was a total disaster," said Nana, who had been expected to reach the third round for a possible encounter with top seed Zhang Ning of China.
Team manager Lius Pongoh, who acted as her coach at the event, said that Nana did not dare to force for nettings and that was an advantage for Wong. Nana also lost to the Malaysian at the 2006 Uber Cup qualifying session in Jaipur, India, in February.
Men's doubles Markis Kido/Hendra Setiawan and women's doubles Jo Novita/Greysia Polii have their matches late Wednesday.
The third day of the competition saw Rupesh Kumar/Thomas Sanave of India play Hong Kong's Johan Hadikusuma/Albert S. Njoto. More than 500 schoolchildren turned out to support the players in a very tight match that was finally won by the Indians 21-17, 19-21, 21-19.
Last year's semifinalists, Chan Chong Ming/Koo Kien Keat of Malaysia, walked out of the tournament as Chan's father died in Kuala Lumpur Tuesday night.
(source: Jakarta Post)