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Asia assured of men's badminton sweep
August 18, 2004 22:12 IST
Former world number one Peter Gade tipped Taufik Hidayat to go all the way to Olympic badminton gold after losing 15-12, 15-12 to the unseeded Indonesian in the men's singles quarter-finals on Wednesday.
The sixth-seeded Dane had been the last European in the draw and his defeat left Asian players fighting it out for the medals, with Indonesia looking easily capable of repeating their 1992 gold and silver haul.
Surprisingly, there are no Chinese left in the men's singles last four.
"I think he can win the gold," said a disappointed Gade, who lost the bronze playoff match in Sydney four years ago when Asia also swept the podium.
Hidayat will play Thailand's Ponsana Boonsak in the semi-final after the Thai powered past Singapore's Ronald Susilo, shock conqueror of China's top seed and world number one Lin Dan in the opening round, 15-10, 15-1.
The other semi-final will pitch South Korean seventh seed Shon Seung-mo against Indonesian Soni Dwi Kuncoro, who came back from 13-6 down in the first game to crush South Korean Park Tae-sang 15-13, 15-4.
Shon beat Chen Hong, China's last hope of retaining the title after the exits of Lin Dan and fourth seed Bao Chunlai, 10-15, 15-4, 15-10 in an 82-minute thriller.
Gade simply failed to assert himself in his hour-long encounter with an agile and energetic opponent who beat Malaysian third seed Wong Choong Hann in the last round.
"You have to control the net and he was controlling the net today," said the 27-year-old.
"I was not good enough at closing in on him at the net and he took some chances and it worked out for him."
Hidayat, cheered on by a small but rowdy group of flag-waving compatriots in a largely-deserted arena, grew in confidence midway through the first game.
"He is in a situation where he can come from behind and nobody is expecting him to do well," said Gade. "But he is always a good player. I respect him and like him a lot.
"I could have nailed at least one of the sets but he was the best today and took the right chances."