Fri, 04 May 2001

RI secures slot in Asia Cup semis

JAKARTA (JP): Indonesia secured a semifinal ticket to the US$170,000 Asia Cup after continuing its winning streak by defeating Hong Kong 3-0 in the second Group A round-robin match at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Thursday.

Also in the semifinals are South Korea and last-minute substitute, Thailand.

Top seed and defending champion Indonesia started the onslaught when world number two singles shuttler Taufik Hidayat easily tamed Indonesian-born Agus Hariyanto, 15-8, 15-7.

Japan Open winners Candra Wijaya and Sigit Budiarto barely broke sweat to oust Liu Kwok-wa and Albertus Susanto Njoto, also from Indonesia, 15-6, 15-5.

Hendrawan, however, had to expend energy to bounce back for a 11-15, 15-8, 15-7 victory against old hand Tam Kai-chuen.

"I was exhausted during the match but it was not a problem. I have won in each of our three encounters. He played really well today," Hendrawan told The Jakarta Post by phone.

"I reached 80 percent to 90 percent of my top form when taking the Olympics silver in September. I played much better than in the All England in March."

While Taufik said he played better than Wednesday.

"I played much better than yesterday. As for tomorrow's match against Korea, let's see what happen because I have never met Lee Hyun-il," he told the Post.

In another Group A match, Singapore managed to steal one match from dark horse South Korea 2-1.

Korea earned its two points thanks to singles Lee Hyun-il, who defeated Ronald Susilo 15-7, 15-13, and doubles Lee Dong-soo and Yoo Yong-sung, who ousted Patrick Lau and Aman Santoso 15-8, 15- 9.

But host Singapore managed to narrow the gap after Indonesian- born Indra Wijaya had to stretch out before defeating Shon Seung- mo 15-13, 8-15, 15-12.

Thailand, the last-minute substitute after India was axed for failing to send All England winner Pulella Gopichand, surprisingly ensured its semifinals slot.

In its second encounter, Thailand managed to put Malaysia on the edge by winning 2-1.

Polsana Boonsak had to struggle before overcoming lefthander Wong Choon Hann 5-15, 15-10, 15-10. But Thailand ensured it had qualified after doubles Pramote Teerawiwaratana and Tesana Pansisavas managed to defeat Malaysia's second best Chan Choong Ming and Chew Choon Eng 17-16, 15-12.

Second singles Yong Hock Kin stole a point after overcoming Anupap Thiraratsakul 15-11, 15-9.

"I just can't believe we have beaten China and Malaysia one after another," said a beaming Thai coach Udom Lunjphetiapoin as his cash-strapped side were guaranteed at least $10,000 for fourth. The winners' cheque is $80,000.

"It will take some time for me to recover from how well my players have performed here," he said, as quoted by AFP.

Asian powerhouse China still has to struggle against Malaysia on Friday for a semis place although it won 3-0 over Japan.

All England runner-up Chen Hong easily beat Shinya Ohtsuka 15- 6, 15-8, while doubles Zhang Jun and Zhang Wei overpowered Yuzo Kubota and Takuya Katayama 15-12, 15-3. Chen Yu sealed his team's victory by crushing Keita Masuda 15-8, 15-12. (nvn)