03-08-2004, 08:40 PM #1
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Misbun expects big names to bounce back in the All-England
PETALING JAYA: Several of the big names in men's singles of world badminton fared poorly at the just concluded Swiss Open in Basel.
But Malaysia's singles chief coach Misbun Sidek expects them to bounce back with much stronger performances in the All-England, which begins tomorrow in Birmingham.
Among them are world champion Xia Xuanze of China and two-time All-England runner-up Taufik Hidayat of Indonesia and Misbun also believes that his charge, Mohd Hafiz Hashim, will rise to the occasion in the defence of the title.
Misbun does not think that Xuanze, Taufik and Hafiz suffered a major loss in form at the Swiss Open.
“Xuanze and Taufik have not lost their touch. They are still fast and very lethal on the counter attack. But they were too eager to beat their opponents and made the mistakes that they do not normally do,” said Misbun.
Both Xuanze and Taufik had not played in any tournaments since reaching the quarter-finals of the China Open and Taiwan Open respectively in November.
In Basel, world number five Xuanze was beaten 10-15, 15-4, 12-15 by Indonesian Sony Dwi Kuncoro in the third round while the Taufik, ranked 18th in the world, lost 12-15, 10-15 to Shon Seung-mo of South Korea.
The 22-year-old Hafiz, who was making a comeback to competition after a five-month break, lost 11-15, 3-15 to South Korean Park Tae-sang in the first round.
“Hafiz was excited to get back on court after having stayed out for a long time. He has recovered fully from a wrist injury and went all out in attack. But it was the wrong strategy to adopt on the day. He might have played better if he had competed in one or two tournaments prior to the Swiss Open,” said Misbun.
In the All-England, Hafiz, Xuanze and Taufik have tricky paths to reach at least the quarter-finals.
Hafiz is set to play against national number one Wong Choong Hann in the second round while Xuanze and Taufik may cross path in the third round.
“It is unfortunate that Hafiz and Choong Hann have been drawn for an early meeting. But it will be interesting if Xuanze and Taufik are to meet each other. Taufik will be out to win the All-England title after having come close to it twice. It will be an exciting match,” said Misbun.
Among the others who did not do well in the Swiss Open but are still rated as the top contenders at the All-England are China's Chen Hong, South Korea's Lee Hyun-il and Choong Hann.
But the established players will not definitely have it their way. Chinese youngsters Lin Dan and Bao Chunlai, who emerged as the champion and runner-up at the Swiss Open, are also among the front-runners. The challenges of losing semi-finalists Roslin Hashim and Sony cannot be discounted.
Last year, Hafiz became the first Malaysian in 37 years to win the prestigious All-England men's singles title. He beat Chen Hong in the final.
Besides Hafiz, Choong Hann and Roslin, the other Malaysian singles players in the fray are Lee Tsuen Seng and Kuan Beng Hong.
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