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Taufik will never turn his back on Indonesia

Former world and Olympic champion Taufik Hidayat said on Sunday he will not turn down a request to play in this year’s Thomas Cup, but expressed hope the Indonesian Badminton Federation (PBSI) will select the junior shuttlers instead.

The 30-year-old shuttler, who is eyeing a second Olympic gold medal in London later this year, said the on-going Axiata Cup proved Indonesia have enough singles players to take over when he finally retires.

Both Indonesian teams – Indonesia Garuda and Indonesia Rajawali – dominated their semi-final matches by beating Malaysia Tigers and Malaysia Leopards 5-1 and 6-0 on aggregate respectively.

On Sunday, both teams registered 3-0 victories over their arch rivals and Taufik said this showed the younger players, particular those from the Rajawali squad, are ready to make the step up.

“If asked, I will never say no to the Thomas Cup. However, I hope the coaches will select the younger players for this year’s campaign,” said Taufik, after beating Malaysia’s Mohd Arif Abdul Latif 21-10, 21-7 in Kuala Lumpur.

“The Axiata Cup has helped us with our preparations for the Thomas Cup and I reckon we will be more united form now on.

“If possible, I would like this tournament to be held every three months! It is a good event, but needs more publicity.”

Asked about his opponent on Sunday, Taufik said: ““Arif is a good player with good technique. I didn’t expect such an easy victory. I think he is better than the other young Malaysian (Misbun Ramdan Misbun), but needs to have more power in his game.

“The final will be interesting as the young Indonesian want to show their skills but I reckon the old boys will win!”

The Axiata Cup is the richest badminton team competition with US$1 million on offer. The winners will receive US$400,000 with the runners-up pocketing US$200,000. The losing semi-finalists walked away with US$100,000 each.

Singapore, Vietnam, Philippines and Thailand, who all failed to make it past the group stages, collected US$50,000.

Earlier, the Tigers, without their best player in world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei and their top doubles pair of Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong, could not match the ferocity of the Garuda team, who welcomed back Simon Santoso in their line-up.

Simon, who missed the team’s first four matches of the tournament, showed none of the rust as he came roaring out of the blocks to trounce Liew Daren 21-11, 21-14.

He admitted he had to be patient at times to beat the Malaysian, but took advantage whenever an opportunity presented itself.

“I had to be patient in the first game as I know Daren is more of a counter attacking player.

“He attacked more in the second game and I was following his rhythm until I managed to break away.

His victory meant Indonesian only needed to win one game in the doubles but Hendra Setiawan-Mohammad Ahsan were made to work hard before beating Lim Khim Wah-Goh V Shem 24-22, 22-20.

It was a satisfying victory for the new Indonesian pair, especially as they were not too happy with some of the umpire’s decision.  With the tie sealed, Taufik crushed Arif in the dead rubber.

Earlier, Indonesia Rajawali completed a 6-0 aggregate victory over Malaysia Leopards to reach the finals.

Leading 3-0 from the first leg, the second stringers from Indonesia only needed to win one game to be sure of qualifying for finals as they had won all their matches in straights games on Saturday.

They, however, refused to take it easy and registered another 3-0 victory, albeit a much closer tie than Saturday’s encounter.

For more information on the Axiata Cup, click here.

SEMI-FINALS (Second leg)
Indonesia Garuda 3 Malaysia Tigers 0 (Simon Santoso bt Liew Daren 21-11,  21-14; Hendra Setiawan-Mohammad Ahsan bt Lim Khim Wah-Goh V Shem 24-22, 22-20; Taufik Hidayat bt Mohamad Arif Abdul Latif 21-10, 21-7)
Indonesia Garuda win 5-1 on aggregate

Indonesia Rajawali 3 Malaysia Leopards 0 (Tommy Sugiarto bt Misbun Ramdan Misbun 15-21, 21-17, 21-13; Ryan Agung Saputra-Angga Pratama bt Teo Ee Yi-Nelson Heg Wei Keat 21-19, 23-21; Dionysius Hayom Rumbaka bt Iskandar Zulkarnain 14-21, 21-17, 21-19)
Rajawali win 6-0 on aggregate

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