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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

French Open Day 1 – Taufik Hidayat vs. Andrew Dabeka

On paper, Taufik appeared to be the clear cut favorite for the match. We’ll see how top Canadian shuttler fares against Olympic and World Champion.

After a jittery start, Taufik showed signs of pulling away after 5-5 to lead 10-6. However, the tricky Dabeka came back to level the match at 10-10. However, Taufik took a one point advantage into the first game interval, and went on to take 6 straight points to lead 16-10. Dabeka tried to mount a comeback at this stage, but eventually succumbed to the pressure and lost 21-17 to Hidayat.

After the expected defeat in the second match, Dabeka’s confidence was again shattered when Taufik took a 3-0 lead. However, Dabeka then upped his game to take a 7-4 lead against the Indonesian badminton ace. They then proceeded to play a cat and mouse game, which suited Dabeka’s lead. However, you would be foolish if you ever dare play cat and mouse with the great Hidayat. When he is playing cat and mouse, you are allowing him to recuperate, and anything else but a gigantic margin will be chased down by Hidayat once he has recovered enough. However, Dabeka did not allow Taufik to settle in, and proceeded to threaten to produce the biggest upset of the day by charging all the way to the 21 point mark to lead 19-9. A late rally by Taufik to attempt to finish off the match didn’t work, with Dabeka closing the game at 21-13. Taufik was in trouble – his records in third sets aren’t particularly rosy.

Both men started cautiously in the second set, but Dabeka managed to whittle out at 6-2 lead. Just when you thought that Hidayat was running out of steam, he showed his prowess by leveling the match at 8-8. Taufik then managed to take a slim 1 point advantage going into the second interval, which was demolished by Dabeka. Dabeka then went on to take a 17-13 lead, and all seemed lost. However, Taufik defied his 3rd game jinx and pulled himself into striking distance at 17-18, which he leveled after a dramatic rally to 18-18. Taufik then proceeded to take a 1 point advantage at 19-18, with many fan’s hearts pounding by just looking at the livescore. Dabeka leveled at 19 all, but all was in vain as Hidayat eventually won 21-19.

Taufik has to improve on his consistency; his three set win, although a thriller, demonstrated his need to stabilize his performance.

For full results of the French Open refer here:

Badminton Loonsport – Men’s Singles Day 1

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