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Hidayat holds off Hashim to win men’s title

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TACTICALLY SHARP: Taufik Hidayat’s plan of keeping the shuttle low and controlling the game from the net paid off handsomely.
TACTICALLY SHARP: Taufik Hidayat’s plan of keeping the shuttle low and controlling the game from the net paid off handsomely.

V.V. Subrahmanyam

BADMINTON / Diju and Jwala Gutta lose in the mixed doubles final

HYDERABAD: World No. 7 Taufik Hidayat of Indonesia defeated 10th-seeded Muhammed Hafiz Hashim of Malaysia 21-18, 21-19 to clinch the men’s singles title within 30 minutes in the India Open Gold Grand Prix badminton championship here on Sunday.

In the women’s singles final, top-seeded and World No. 4 Pi Hongyan of France beat the fifth-seeded Julia Pei Xian Wong of Malaysia 17-21, 21-15, 21-14 in 54 minutes.

The mixed doubles pair of V. Diju and Jwala Gutta came a cropper against the World championship bronze medallists Limpele Flandy and Vita Marissa of Indonesia to lose 21-14, 21-17.

Not wanting to take a risk in conditions where the drift factor was taking its toll, the second-seeded former World and Olympic champion Hidayat preferred to dominate the net.

Former All England champion Hashim flattered to deceive after taking a 3-0 lead to start with. The scores were tied quite a few times as both the players were engaged in net dribbles. But what helped Hidayat immensely were his jump smashes which brooked no return.

All that Hashim could do was watch helplessly as Hidayat repeatedly picked the corners with remarkable consistency. These smashes nullified whatever little advantage Hashim gained at the net.

Compounding Hashim’s misery were his erratic returns which often went out and he ended up conceding nine points in the first game.

The second game saw Hashim raise memories of his 2003 form, when he had won the All England championship.

He fought back several times to level the scores. But once Hidayat established mastery at the net, there was no stopping him from winning his first major title this year — his last win was at the Macau Open in 2008.

Hidayat said later that he was apprehensive of the drift and had deliberately kept the shuttle low.

“It was a very tough final and I am delighted to have won my first ever India Open title.

“I thank the crowd for its support,” he said.

The women’s singles final saw Hongyan fight back every time she was down. Clearly, the French girl’s waiting game paid off as her young opponent made too many unforced errors. The 30-year old top seed’s expertise under pressure against the 21-year-old Wong, was the decisive factor.

Hongyan said when she requested for a change of shuttle in the decider, the Malaysian girl refused. “So my aim was to control the shuttle which was really fast then. I am happy that I could achieve that,” she explained, after her first title win since the 2006 Singapore Open triumph.

Disappointment

But Diju and Jwala were a disappointed duo. “We were outplayed in the first game. In the second game we thought we had a chance to extend the issue into the decider. But we became complacent at 17-13, thinking that the game was ours.

“They played exceptionally well and their service was too good,” confessed the Indian pair later.

The results: All finals: Men’s singles: Taufik Hidayat (Ina) bt Muhammed Hafiz Hashim (Mas) 21-18, 21-19. Men’s doubles: Choong Tan Fook & Lee Wan Wah (Mas) bt Hendri Kurniawan Saputra & Hendra Wijaya (Sin) 21-9, 21-11.

Women’s singles: Pi Hongyan (Fra) bt Julia Pei Xian Wong (Mas) 17-21, 21-15, 21-14. Womens doubles: Ma Jin & Wang Xiaoli (Chn) bt Vita Marissa & Nadya Melati (Ina) 21-14, 21-13.

Mixed doubles: Limpele Flandy & Vita Marissa (Ina) bt V. Diju & Jwala Gutta (Ind) 21-14, 21-17.

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