The Star Online > Sports
Saturday, August 02, 2003

Europeans and Indons left wondering what went wrong


EUROPE was not the only ones left sulking with Denmark's world number two Kenneth Jonassen the only non-Asian left in the men's singles competition on Thursday night.

It was all gloom for the Indonesian camp as well when their best singles hope Taufik Hidayat crashed out in the third round on Thursday.

With Taufik out, Indonesia have only one player in contention for the prized crown in Asian champion Sony Dwi Kuncoro, who will play Malaysian number one Wong Choong Hann for a place in the semi-final.

Taufik looked out of place in his match against Bao Chunlai from China and hardly looked the kind of player who at one time was feared by everyone.

The lanky Chinese youngster only needed 37 minutes to beat Taufik 15-9, 15-4.

Taufik has always failed to do well when it comes to playing in Europe and things hardly changed on Thursday.

He failed twice to win the All-England title in Europe, losing to Peter-Gade Christensen from Denmark and Xia Xuanze from China in 1999 and 2000 respectively.

In the last World Championships, Taufik had to give up the fight in the semi-finals against Christensen after he sprained his ankle.

Indonesia's other hopes Marleve Mainaky and Budi Santoso were early round casualties. Marleve, who was formerly the top singles player, failed to clear his first round hurdle against Shon Seung-mo from South Korea.

He lost 2-15, 6-15 while Santoso met his match in a second round encounter, losing 6-15, 13-15 to Malaysia's Choong Hann.

Indonesian team manager Christian Hadinata could only shrugged his head during Taufik's match and did not even stayed to watch Taufik finish the match.

The poor performance of the Indonesian players here suggested that they will have their work cut out for them in the Thomas Cup Finals next year.

Indonesia have been picked to stage the Thomas and Uber Cup Finals next year and there will be heavy expectations on the hosts to deliver.

Hadinata, who himself won two World Championships gold medals, acknowledged the fact that Indonesia have no good men's singles players that they can rely on.

“Sony (Dwi Kuncoro) is our best player but we are not sure how he will fare in the Thomas Cup. The others have to improve from now if they want to be assured of a place in the squad.

“As for the doubles, we can rely on Candra Wijaya-Sigit Budiarto to get a point. However, the pressure will be great on the singles if they fail to do so.

“Things are not looking good for us. We have to work much harder when we go back to Jakarta.”