Defending badminton singles champion Taufik Hidayat kicked off the mind games at the Asian Games on Thursday, saying the pressure was on World No. 1 Lee Chong Wei and home favourite Lin Dan.
Indonesia's Hidayat, who was involved in a running feud with Lin at the last Asian Games in Doha in 2006, is talented but temperamental. “Lin Dan and Lee Chong Wei, of course, but I feel no pressure,” said Hidayat, when asked who his toughest opponents would be at the Games.
“I think they are the ones who will feel the pressure,” added Hidayat, the World No. 4, after training at Tianhe Gymnasium.
“I think Lin will be looking to add the Asian Games gold to his Olympic and world titles. As for Lee, because he has no Olympic or world title, I think this Asian Games gold will be very special to him,” Hidayat said.
Not fully fit
Malaysian Lee has had his preparations badly hit by niggling injury that looked like ruling him out of the Games at one stage.
The 28-year-old made it to Guangzhou in the end, but admits he is not fully fit after trouble with his back and ankle. “I have not yet fully recovered, so I can do the normal training but nothing too strenuous,” said Lee after a training session. “I'm prepared for every match and every strong opponent.”
Lin, touted by many as the best player ever, has never won gold in the Asian Games singles, but will be fully expected to wipe that blemish from his record when the action gets underway next week.
“Team competition is my priority,” said Lin, 27, an Olympic gold medallist, three-time world championship winner and one of the biggest names at the Games. “Of course, every player wants to go from good to better but one should not be obsessed with it (singles gold). Most of the world's top players are at the Asian Games, so one little mistake could cost you victory,” he said.
The Games organisers will be hoping that there is no repeat of the ill-feeling that rumbled on throughout the event four years ago when Indonesia and China — and particularly Lin and Hidayat — squabbled off court.
Tensions were sparked when the then Olympic champion Hidayat branded Lin arrogant and said he was disliked by the other players. Hidayat rubbed it in by beating the Chinese superstar in straight games in a tense singles final. — AFP