Olympic Champion Taufik eyes Aviva Open crown

Discussion in 'Singapore Open 2004' started by Amateur, Oct 25, 2004.

  1. Amateur

    Amateur Regular Member

    Sep 29, 2003
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    SINGAPORE, 25 OCTOBER 2004 – Olympic champion Taufik Hidayat is among the first marquee name to be confirmed for next month’s Aviva Open Singapore 2004 (Nov 15 –21) at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.

    The 24-year-old Indonesian ace, who missed last year’s Open, will start as one of the pre-tournament favourites this year. The temperamental and flamboyant shuttler broke into tears after winning the Olympic men singles gold in Athens back in August. Taufik, the reigning Asian Games champion, also won the Asian Championships in April.

    The current world number eight will have fond memories of the Singapore Indoor Stadium, where he won the 2001 Singapore Open in an epic final against Malaysia ace Wong Choon Hann. Taufik, who trained in Singapore briefly in 2001, is popular among badminton fans and is trained by famed coach Mulyo Handoyo, who used to guide Singapore ace Ronald Susilo.

    “Taufik, like Ronald, both stand a good chance of winning big tournaments like the Aviva Open,†said Mulyo, speaking from the Indonesian training camp in Jakarta earlier today. “Of course, the Athens experience puts Taufik in good stead in the long run and he is in a very strong position for this year’s Singapore Open. I believe Taufik will still be playing even in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, but by then, age will be a factor for him.â€

    Chinese star Chen Hong may have won the last two Singapore Opens, but if there is anyone who can break his stranglehold, it will be Taufik. The talented Indonesia ace has a perfect 5-0 head-to-head record against Chen Hong and holds a 1-0 lead against world number one Lin Dan and 3-2 lead against 2003 world champion Xia Xuanze in head-to-head meetings.

    Besides perennial crowd favourite Taufik, badminton powerhouse Indonesia will also be deploying all its top doubles specialists to the US$170,000 Aviva Open Singapore.

    Indonesia failed to win any of the five titles in the last two Singapore Opens, but this year, Olympic bronze medallists Flandy Limpele and Eng Hian, current world number two Luluk Hadiyanto and Yulianto Alven, 2003 All England champions Candra Wijaya and Sigit Budiarto are all possible contenders for men’s doubles.

    Flandy and Eng Hian won the Singapore Open back in 2002, but were representing England that year. The experienced pair is back playing under the Indonesian flag and this year, they managed to reach the semifinals of the All England, Korea Open, Japan Open and Asian Championships, before winning the bronze in Athens.

    Luluk and Yulianto meantime are the hot Indonesian pairing after climbing to a career high world number two on Thursday. The relatively new pairing won this year’s Thailand and Malaysian Opens and finished runner-ups in the Malaysia and Swiss Opens.

    But Indonesia’s best hopes for the men’s doubles title could lie with veterans Candra Wijaya and Sigit Budiarto. The two veterans are re-united once again after competing most of this season with other partners. Sigit has been playing with Tri Kush Aryanto, while Candra has had three different partners in his last three tournaments.

    Candra and Sigit are one of the most interesting men’s doubles pair in badminton history. The pair became world champions in 1997 at the age of 22, but their glory days were thought to be over after Sigit failed a dope test in 1998 and was banned for a year by the International Badminton Federation (IBF).

    Candra then teamed up with Tony Gunawan and went on to win the 1999 All England and the 2000 Sydney Olympics gold. However, Candra and Sigit were again reunited in 2001, won the Japan Open the same year and reached the final of the 2003 World Championships, before splitting up again. Now reunited for a third time, the Indonesia pair will be hoping to win their third Singapore Open titles after wins in 1997 and 1998.

    Besides the Indonesian team, fans can also expect several other Indonesian ‘imports’ at the Aviva Open.

    Tony Gunawan will represent the United States and he will play in the men doubles with Howard Bach. Dicky Palyama will be wearing Holland’s colours in the men singles, while Agus Hariyanto, Yohan Wiratama and Albertus Susanto Njoto is representing Hong Kong.

    India, meantime, has already confirmed three entries - Puella Gophichand and Abhinn Gupta (men singles) and Aparna Popat (women singles).

    Gophichand, who won the All England in 2001, used to be one of the most skilful and exciting players on the world circuit, but he has struggled with injuries in the past two years and will have to struggle through the qualifiers. India’s best hopes would lie with world number 37 and current Indian number one Abhinn Gupta who won the Mauritius International in April this year.

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