KUALA LUMPUR: The world of badminton bade farewell to Taufik Hidayat (pic) yesterday after the hugely popular Indonesian shuttler crashed out of his home Open in Jakarta on Wednesday.
Badminton fans will be missing his outstanding courtcraft, controversial off-the-court antics and witty sarcasm.
The opening round defeat of one of the most colourful characters in world badminton – to India’s youngster B. Sai Praneeth – proved to be an anti-climax to his fans all over the world.
But Taufik can still stand tall as he calls it a day after a fabulous 15-year career that has seen him win all the major tournaments.
The baby-faced Taufik, known for his classy and superb backhand returns, won the 2004 Athens Olympic Games gold medal, the 2005 world title and back-to-back Asian Games gold in 2002 and 2006.
He also led Indonesia to Thomas Cup victories in 2000 and 2002.
The only missing piece is the All-England title, although he came close in 1999 and 2000.
In a post-match press conference reported in Kompas, Taufik, who will turn 32 in August, told his fans to remember all the wonderful moments he achieved throughout his career.
“Appreciate me for what I’ve achieved in the earlier part of my career ... not the tailend,” said the six-time Indonesian Open winner, whose form took a drastic dip over the last two years.
As outstanding as he was on court, he was just as good at courting controversies off it – losing his cool and tangling with the All-Indonesian Badminton Association (PBSI).
He even moved to Singapore for almost a year to be with his coach Mulyo Handoyo after a spat with the national body.
Although he has hung up his racquet, Taufik will continue to produce more players through his Taufik Hidayat Academy, which he launched early this year.
Taufik is the third big name to call it quits after Lee Hyun-il of South Korea and Peter-Gade Christensen of Denmark since last year.