Taufik Hidayat showed on Saturday why he doesnt merely make magical moments his own. Badmintons biggest enthraller etched every frame of his strokes on a hundred-odd minds at the Gachibowli Stadium.
At one point,Hidayat,moving forward to the net,watched the lobbed shuttle looping down behind him,twirled around on his heel without a hint of imbalance,and used his backhand to flick it back exactly where it had come from. Theres a respectably short summation: the reverse backhand slice. But it was a shuttle,which anyone even a disinterested Hidayat on one of his moody days wouldve given up on. The match stats would reduce the moment to a shuttle picked in vain as the long rally finally ended in favour of Hidayats compatriot Tommy Sugiarto. But it was a rare point won by the youngster in Hidayats 36-minute 21-13 21-11 march into the final.
At game point in the opener,the 28-year-old world No 7 had stamped his dominance on the match with a rasping backhand cross-court smash. Another shot was hit from behind and between his legs,and yet another was a push at the net,almost as an afterthought and with a theatric pause,which whizzed right past Sugiartos nose. The most dramatic was another attack: Hidayat expected a high shuttle on his far right,found it to his left,and turned around for a backhand smash.
Trickery on show
Not for nothing were the organisers keen on bringing the 2004 Olympic and 2005 world champion to India,where he candidly confessed on Day One that he had travelled as part of sponsor obligations. But with the Indians out of the reckoning in singles,Hidayat chose his semi-final to show his entire repertoire of tricks on court,setting up a final with Muhammad Hafiz Hashim.
Im hoping for top form tomorrow, he said ominously for his Malaysian opponent,and to the absolute delight of his dozen Indonesian fans,many of them students at universities in Hyderabad. Hafiz,the 2003 All England champion,last won a title in 2006,but has never got past Hidayat in six meetings.
Ill go all-out against Taufik,and Im hungry for a title, Hafiz said. But itll be tough with those kind of strokes, he added.
Indias mixed doubles pairing of Jwala Gutta-V Diju will take on Indonesian third-seed Flandy Limpele and Vita Marissa in the final,and will hope to repeat their Bulgarian Open success while playing their biggest title-clash at home. In the semi-finals,the second-seeded duo,ranked 15 in the world,beat Malaysians Jien Guo Ong and Sook Chin Chong 21-11 21-12.
In the womens doubles,Jwala-Shruti Kurien have played their last game together,and the reported split was out in the open as the two failed miserably to combine on court. They never got going in their 20-minute 21-17 21-9 loss to Indonesian Vita Marissa and Nadya Meleti.
Im definitely not playing the Asian Badminton Championships starting April, Shruti said later,confirming the split,though an official announcement is due.