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'Handsome' Hidayat is Saina's driving force

July 30, 2013 08:19 IST

'Handsome' Hidayat is Saina's driving force

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Olympic bronze medalist Saina Nehwal says the inclusion of former Olympic champion and her childhood hero Taufik Hidayat in her team Hyderabad Hotshots will serve as a moral booster in the upcoming Indian Badminton League.

"He (Taufik) is a role model and driving force in the game. I'm really happy to be part of the Hyderabad Hotshots team. I was thrilled once he was also included," said the 23-year-old Indian sports icon, who is preparing for next month's World Championship in China.

Saina, who bagged a price of $120,000 in the IBL player's auction, said she is looking forward to train with the legendary Indonesian.

"Getting to train and play along with him is going to be brilliant. It will be the best part about playing the League," said the world No.3.


Image: Saina Nehwal
Photographs: Michael Regan/Getty Images

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'Taufik Sir is the king of badminton'

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Hidayat, 31, recently retired from the sport after a highly-successful career which saw him win the men's singles gold medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics. He also won the gold medal at the Asian Games twice, in 2002 and 2006, and World Championships in 2005.

"Taufik Sir is the king of badminton…handsome, talented and very humble. He is extremely energetic on the court and so charming that he makes badminton look easy and simple, though it's not.

"It is the fastest game in the world and requires loads of energy to play. Taufik Sir is very simple and yet moody; if he is not interested in a game he will not play. I'm sure his presence will be a great morale booster to Hyderabad Hotshots," said Saina.


Image: Taufik Hidayat
Photographs: Junko Kimura/Getty Images

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'His back strokes are matchless and so nice and accurately hit'

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The Indian ace recalled partnering Hidayat in an exhibition match in 2009, during the Syed Modi memorial tournament in Lucknow.

"I remember playing with him as a mixed double partner for an exhibition match in the Syed Modi Memorial tournament in Lucknow in 2009. I have great memories of that match. I also have a smashing photograph with him, Prakash (Padukone) Sir and Gopi (Pullela Gopichand) Sir from an event held in Mumbai the same year. Now, our association for Hyderabad Hotshots will be for more than a fortnight.

"Fans would love to watch him on court. I know Taufik Sir since I joined the game. He is known for his wrist play; his back strokes are matchless and so nice and accurately hit; his net play and court coverage is unparalleled," she added.


Image: Saina Nehwal
Photographs: Michael Regan/Getty Images

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'It will be very hectic to play in six cities'

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Asked if she has any plans to take the Indonesian legend sight-seeing, Saina replied, "It depends on the team management, on how they will manage. It will be very hectic to play in six cities, travelling from one place to another in 18 days. There will hardly be any time left for sight-seeing."

The $1-million league is set to launch on August 14, with some high-voltage action expected between Krrish Delhi Smashers and Pune Pistons.

The 2013 IBL will feature six franchises and run for 18 days. Each franchise will host a two-day leg. The tournament will have 90 matches.

The top four franchises in the league will clash in the semi-finals and its winners will meet in the final on August 31, in Mumbai.


Image: Saina Nehwal
Photographs: Michael Regan/Getty Images

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