Thu, 28 Aug 2003

Taufik, Sony keep RI's title hope alive

Musthofid, The Jakarta Post, Batam, Riau

Taufik Hidayat and Sony Dwi Kuncoro became the only home favorites remaining in the men's singles of the US$170,000 Indonesian Open badminton tournament on Wednesday.

After laboring to gain his 7-15, 15-3, 15-9 first round win over qualifier Beng Hong Kuan of Malaysia, defending champion Taufik upped his game to dispatch Canadian Bobby Milroy 15-2, 15- 4 in the second round later in the day.

Sony, the Asian Championship title holder, had a relatively easier game, despite being paired against former All England champion Pullela Gophichand of India, whom he beat 15-2, 15-6. Earlier, he conceded only six points in his 15-3, 15-3 rout over Norwegian Jim Ronny Andersen.

With his win, Sony leveled his head-to-head record with Gopichand. The Indonesian lost to the Indian, who was coming fresh from his All England championship win, at the 2001 Indonesian Open in Jakarta.

This time's match-up saw Gopichand's return to the court after being sidelined by a knee injury for almost a year. In the ongoing tournament, he had to scramble up from the qualifying stage, during which he played four matches in two days.

"I feel better from the injury. But I think for the last couple of days, I have been playing a lot of matches. I was a bit tired," Gopichand, who also quit in the second round at the preceding Singapore Open, said after the match.

Asked whether he was disappointed by the defeat, he replied: "I'm just coming back after about a year. This is my second tournament. I'm looking forward to the next tournament."

Apart from Taufik and Sony, who are seeded fourth and eighth in the tournament, other seeds flew through to the next round with top seed Chen Hong, two-time Singapore Open champion, proving too strong for Dicky Palyama of the Netherlands and qualifier Allan Tai of Malaysia.

Other advancing seeds included Chinese Bao Chunlai, Malaysian brothers Roslin Hashim and Hafiz Hashim, Singaporean Ronald Susilo, South Korean Lee Hyun-il and Thai Boonsak Polsana.

The other Indonesian men's singles players made early exits.

Budi Santoso and Marleve Mainaky managed to overcome their opponents early on, only to lose out in the second round. Budi, who needed three sets to beat Hong Kong's Yohan Wiranata in the first round, later fell to Lin Dan of China with 15-3, 15-6.

"Budi did not seem to recover his stamina fully after a tiring match against Yohan. He lacked speed. His returns were too flat, so that Lin Dan could easy respond with counter attacks," Indonesian coach Joko Supriyanto said.

Marleve was beaten 15-3, 15-11 by Shon Mo-seung of South Korea, who also stopped another Indonesian, qualifier Vidre Wibowo, 15-10, 15-10 in the opening round.

Rony Agustinus joined the Indonesian casualties, crashing to a 15-10, 15-13 defeat to Malaysian veteran Ong Ewe Hock.

While Indonesia keeps up its hope of retaining the men's singles title, it saw all its women's singles home players pack their bags.

Marissa IP and Cahyaning Priyanto, who had to pass the qualifying matches to reach the main round, were run over by Chinese Mi Zhou and BR Meenakishi of India, respectively.

Hopes were then hung on Yuli Marfuah, Dian Novita Sari and Dewi Tira Arisandi, all members of the national elite team. But all three crash landed in two-set encounters inside the Indoor Hall of the Tumenggung Abdul Jamal sports compound.

Yuli lost to Jun Jae-youn of South Korea 11-6, 11-6, while Dian gave in 11-5, 11-7 to Petya Nedeltcheva of Bulgaria and Dewi bowed down 11-9, 11-5 to Wai Chee Lousia Koon of Hong Kong.