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Taufik warns of English challenge after winning Axiata Cup

Taufik Hidayat has taken on the persona of elder brother to his teammates and like an elder sibling, he knows when to encourage and when to chide them.

As such, after guiding the Indonesia Garuda team to a comprehensive 5-1 victory over Indonesia Rajawali in the finals of the inaugural Axiata Cup on Sunday, the former world and Olympic champion urged his younger teammates in the Rajawali team to step their game up if they want to do well in their career and next month’s Thomas Cup.

Tommy Sugiarto, Dionysius Hayom Rumbaka and Shesar Hiren Rhustavito were the three singles players in the Rajawali squad, a team made up of Indonesia’s up and coming talents.

Tommy and Dionysius are fighting to make the Thomas Cup squad where Simon Santoso and Taufik are the expected first choices with former Asian champion Sony Dwi Kuncoro fighting to prove his fitness after two years of injury hell.

“I consider all of them to be part of my (Indonesian) family and I want them to do well. Unfortunately, right now, only our doubles pairs have shown better results,” said Taufik, who posed for pictures with his daughter Natarina Alika Hidayat (above), after Sunday’s finals.

The former Asian champion explained the Thomas Cup would be a much harder after Indonesia were drawn to meet China and England in the group stages.

“Only the top two teams will progress to the quarter-finals and we cannot underestimate the English team. It would be easy and this is why I hope the younger singles players will be able to rise to the challenge from now till then,” said Taufik, who won the Thomas Cup in 2000 and 2002, the last when the tournament was held in Guangzhou, China.

This year, the Thomas and Uber Cup competitions will once again be held in China, this time in Wuhan, from May 20-27 and Taufik will be hoping Indonesia can repeat their amazing feats from 10 years ago.

Meanwhile, two-time SEA Games champion Simon clinched the winning point for Indonesia Garuda (right), as the country’s elite shuttlers became the inaugural champions of the Axiata Cup.

Facing their younger counterparts Indonesia Rajawali in the two-legged finals, Garuda entered the second leg with a comfortable 3-0 lead.

On Sunday, Simon once again faced Tommy, son of former world champion Icuk, who was fighting to keep his team alive.

Simon, however, was once again too strong for his teammate, carving out a 21-16, 21-10 victory in 50 minutes to give Garuda an unassailable 4-0 lead.

“I’m delighted to have scored the winning point and for Garuda to become the inaugural champions,” said a delighted Simon after his match.

“This has indeed been a great tournament. It also helped us prepare for next month’s Thomas Cup.”

Rajawali pulled a point back when Alvent Yulianto Chandra-Angga Pratama upset world No. 6 Mohammad Ahsan-Bona Septano lost 23-21, 12-21, 21-13 before Taufik outplayed Shesar 21-14, 21-15 to cap a memorable tournament for himself.

Taufik is the only player to have played in all six matches in the Axiata Cup and he finished with a 100% winning record.

Dato’ Sri Jamaludin Ibrahim President & Group Chief Executive Officer, Axiata Group gave away the trophy to the winning team.

The Axiata Cup is the world’s richest badminton tournament with the winners taking home US$400,000 and the runners-up US$200,000. The losing semi-finalists pocketed US$100,000 each while the four teams who failed to get past the group stages picked up US$50,000 each.

For more on the Axiata Cup, click here.

Finals (second leg)
Indonesia Garuda 2 Indonesia Rajawali 1 (Simon Santoso bt Tommy Sugiarto 21-16, 21-10; Mohammad Ahsan-Bona Septano lost Alvent Yulianto Chandra-Angga Pratama 21-23, 21-12, 13-21; Taufik Hidayat bt Shesar Hiren Rhustavito 21-14, 21-15)
(Indonesia Garuda win 5-1 on aggregate)

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