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Simon, Chong Wei may be back for return leg

Indonesia Garuda took a huge step towards entering the finals of the inaugural Axiata Cup when they defeated Malaysia Tigers 2-1 on Friday.

The Tigers, however, were given a lifeline when 2003 All England champion Hafiz Hashim defeated three-time Asian champion Sony Dwi Kuncoro in straight games, 21-13, 21-19.

The return leg is on Sunday with the Tigers banking on world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei and Garuda on Simon Santoso (right), to make their debuts in the tournament.

Chong Wei has sat out his team’s four matches thus far after injuring his right shoulder at the All England Open earlier this month, but indicated he may return to help his country attempt to reach the final of the US$1 million tournament.

Simon hurt himself during the German Open final, but still went on to play at the All England where he suffered a first round defeat to Denmark’s Hans-Kristian Vittinghus.

He told a press conference after the first leg of the semi-final: “Yes, I’m raring to go. I feel better now and hope to get a chance to play in the return leg on Sunday.”

The Tigers are within touching distance after Hafiz’s win which means they now trail by only four games to two with the points 116-104 in favour of the Indonesians.

As such, for the Tigers to reach the final, they would either have to win 3-0 at the KLBA Stadium on Sunday or 2-1, but with a better games won-loss ratio. If that remains tied, then points won-loss will be taken into consideration.

Sony, who is also the 2004 Olympic bronze medallist, won the Asian title in 2002, 2003 and 2004 and was runner-up at the 2007 World Championships.

He, however, has been plagued by injuries the past 24 months and only managed to put up a fight towards the end of the second where he came back from 15-7 down before eventually losing by two points.

Earlier, former world, Olympic and Asian Games champion Taufik Hidayat was too good for Liew Daren (left), beating the new Malaysian No. 2 in straight games, winning 21-19, 21-9 to give Garuda a perfect start.

It was Taufik’s fourth straight victory in the tournament and showed he is well and truly back to his best after some poor results at the start of the year.

Next up, Hendra Setiawan, like Taufik a winner of the three most prestigious titles in the badminton, but with his usual partner Markis Kido, teamed up with Mohammad Ahsan to down young Tigers Lim Khim Wah-Goh V Shem 21-17, 21-17.

For more information on the Axiata Cup, click here.

SEMI-FINALS
Indonesia Garuda 2 Malaysia Tigers 1 (Taufik Hidayat bt Liew Daren 21-19, 21-9; Hendra Setiawan-Mohammad Ahsan bt Lim Khim Wah-Goh V Shem 21-17, 21-17; Sony Dwi Kuncoro lost Hafiz Hashim 13-21, 19-21)

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