Mon, 21 Aug 2000

Indonesia and China grab two titles in Malaysia Open

JAKARTA (JP): Indonesia and China won two titles each in the US$150,000 Proton-Eon Malaysia Open at the Malawati Stadium in Shah Alam on Sunday while South Korea earned one.

Indonesia retained its dominance in both men's singles and doubles, but Chinese women proved much too powerful for their rivals as they managed to achieve all-Chinese finals in both singles and doubles events.

Indonesian world number three Taufik Hidayat managed to fulfill his ambition to take revenge on Chinese Xia Xuanze in Sunday's final after winning 15-10, 17-14 to claim the US$12,000 prize money. It is his third title this year after winning the men's team Thomas Cup crown in Kuala Lumpur in May and the Indonesia Open in Jakarta last month.

Taufik was downed 0-6 in the first game but managed to bounce back to control the match before concluding it at 15-10.

In the second game, he was leading 10-3 but he was overly cautious of making mistakes with his serves and allowed Xia, world number four, to take over with 12-10.

But Taufik managed to improve his long serves, passing the Chinese while he was on the edge with Xia leading 14-12, and took back control by not allowing Xia to attack him. The Indonesian sealed the match with 17-14.

"I'm quite satisfied with my victory here as I managed to beat him in a five-star tournament, although it's still not as prestigious as the All England," the 19-year-old Indonesian told The Jakarta Post in a telephone interview. Xia killed Taufik's dream of winning the All England title in May.

"I played really bad in the second game because he's very good at the net and with his smashes. He played really fast, even much faster in the second game.

"But I played without any pressure today as my personal target was only to reach the semifinals and my coach, Mulyo Handoyo, left everything in my hands. If I wanted to take revenge, I had to work hard. But if I decided I'd be satisfied with just the $6,000 second prize, it was up to me," he said with a laugh.

In the men's doubles, Flandy Limpele and Eng Hian fulfilled their target of winning after a year of a title drought.

Cheered on by Indonesian laborers working in Malaysia, the Indonesian pair managed to control the game since the beginning, eventually taming South Koreans Lee Dong-soo and Yoo Yong-sung at 15-9, 15-9.

"Although the scores make it seem that the match was easy, we had long rallies. We managed to control the game since the beginning and never let the Koreans take control. They failed to perform their best," Didi, Eng Hian's nickname, told the Post.

"This victory has given us more confidence and motivation for the Olympic Games."

But in the mixed doubles, Tri Kusharyanto and Minarti Timur failed to follow in their compatriots' footsteps as they bowed out to South Korean Kim Dong-moon and Ra Kyung-min 7-15, 8-15.

Team manager Herry Imam Pierngadi said the results were over the target as the Badminton Association of Indonesia (PBSI) only wanted the shuttlers to improve their world rankings.

"Taufik will likely jump to the top position, taking over from Peter Gade Christensen of Denmark. He'll be the top seed in the Olympics. The singles competition here has described the power of winner candidates in the Olympics, although Gade Christensen and Hendrawan of Indonesia were absent," he said.

"In the doubles event, Indonesia, Korea, China and Denmark remain strong candidates to win the Olympics gold."

Chinese Gong Zhichao overpowered teammate Dai Yun 11-6, 11-9 while Ge Fei and Gu Jun overcame juniors Huang Nanyan and Yang Wei 15-17, 15-5, 15-8. (yan)