Hyderabad: For the first four days of the Indian Open here, Taufik Hidayat of Indonesia was looked upon by the badminton fans as more a of temperamental player who complained against everything he came across.
On Saturday, one finally realised why Hidayat is still regarded as one of the finest players of the game. Playing against compatriot Tommy Sugiarto in the men’s singles semi-finals, Hidayat unleashed a series of stunning backhand smashes and drop shots that had the spectators on their feet.
Hidayat, the former world and Olympic champion, was at his classic best during his 21-13, 21-9 destruction of Sugiarto, son of former world champion Icuk Sugiarto. He was a treat to watch and he left the audience in awe with his smooth footwork and deceptive shots.
No wonder the current world No.1 declared immediately after the match that he was ready to take the title. “I could play all my shots perfectly… I am focussed and confident of winning the final,” Hidayat said.
“If I win the title, I will be in my top form,” was how the Indonesian assessed the situation. Asked if he could be described as the John McEnroe of badminton, the Indonesian shot back saying: “He was a tennis player and I play badminton.”
To his opponent, Hidayat can be extremely deceptive. He looks relaxed on court and suddenly starts moving sharply. He also keeps the umpire on his toes with regular complaints.
Hidayat says he would definitely hit back were someone to trouble him.
“I think it is the normal tendency of a human being. I am the same Taufik Hidayat both on and off court. You can take a closer look at me and make your own judgement,” he said.