Hidayat, Lin show two sides of Team Asia
By Marc Anthony Reyes
Inquirer News Service
TEAM Asia has two faces: Taufik Hidayat, the flashy crowd-darling, and Lin Dan, the steel-nerved lethal weapon.
About the only thing the two share -- aside from the side of the court they're on in the MVP Cup: Asia vs Europe badminton challenge -- is a long-standing rivalry.
It's a great thing to be playing together (with Lin), this time for Asia, said the 23-year-old Hidayat, who just recently bowed to Lin in the Sudirman Cup singles finals in Jakarta.
With his fancy shots and uncanny ability to make placement shots off opponents' smashes, it wasn't too surprising why Hidayat, the reigning Olympic champion and world No. 8, has endeared himself to the Filipino crowd.
I love this country [because] this is where I won my first title (1997 Asian juniors championships), said the Indonesian, who overcame a pulled abdominal muscle to crush Denmark's Anders Boesen, 15-13, 15-4, Tuesday night.
Lin, the 21-year-old Thomas Cup and world champion, swears the Philippines
is also close to his heart. He was also in Manila where he, playing as a junior, upset Hidayat four years ago.
Still, it's a rare treat to have two of the most recognizable badminton stars, rivals at that, playing as teammates for a change.
That makes this tournament special, said team manager Datuk Punch Gunalan. We get to pool together the region's vast talent resource and put them on display on the world stage.