Taufik Hidayat left his final All England appearance without winning a match, as he and Axelsen both departed after coming up against big names from Japan. The loss means Hidayat will never attain the coveted All England title.
By Michael Burke, Badzine Correspondent, live from Birmingham. Photos: Yohan Nonotte for Badmintonphoto (live).
Long standing star player Taufik Hidyat (pictured left) of Indonesia, today left his final appearance at the All England in the first round, reminiscent of Peter Gade’s fate last year. He leaves behind an enviable legacy of World and Olympic titles, but winning a coveted All England title will forever elude him. This result was in contrast to Indonesian compatriot Markis Kido, who progressed with sister Pia Zebadiah Bernadeth against the Danes in the mixed.
Hidayat, whose last outing was to give Liew Daren a walkover at the Malaysia Open in January, faced Sho Sasaki of Japan, who has reached the third round of his last three tournaments.
Sho dictated the first game but lacked the killer finish on the final shot, as Hidayat played with patience and a solid defence to lead comfortably, 11-3 at the mid game interval. However Sasaki did not give up, on the resumption he played safer to cut back on errors, got within touching distance and from 10-16 down, he took a run of 11 straight points to take the game.
The second game followed much in this vein as the match reached a somewhat tame conclusion. Occasional flashes of the impressive attack for which Taufik is famed were overshadowed by his otherwise disinterested play as he trailed from start to finish, the second end finishing 21-11.
Crowd favourite an promising upcoming star, Viktor Axelsen of Denmark, also suffered today at the hands of a Japanese opponent, as Kenichi Tago (pictured right with opponent Viktor Axelsen) took a very close game 22-20, 21-15.
Having trailed by as many as 8 points in the first game, Axelsen showed great composure to fight back to have the chance to save two of the game points faced, however Tago did not panic and closed out the game. In the end Tago, who last year lost in the semis to Lin Dan, was too strong for the young Dane as he took 5 straight points from 15-14 up, to again hold too many match points for the young Dane to save, the match finishing 22-20, 21-15.
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