Hidayat proves a point defeating Kashyap (Interview)

New Delhi, April 24 (IANS) Athens Olympic badminton gold medallist Taufik Hidayat Wednesday justified his blunt remark that most Indians are just average international players by outlasting World No.7 Parupalli Kashyap at the Indian Open Super Series here.

On the eve of his battle with Kashyap, the former World Champion from Indonesia told IANS that Indians are good players but not good enough to rule international badminton with sustaining power.

As if to rub it in, Hidayat saved a matchpoint in the second game before putting it across Kashyap over three games.

“Yes, Indians are talented. Take Saina out, the rest are all average and if you line them up with the best in the world they are so-so players. I believe they need to play more tournaments to get the right kind of exposure. Look at China and Taiwan, they are producing several good players and that’s why they are the best in the business,” said Taufik, who is here on a farewell visit since he has announced that this is going to be his last year on the circuit as a player.

When reminded that a teenage Indian Pratul Joshi beat him in the Syed Modi tournament at Lucknow in December, Hidayat laughed it off saying it was “one of those days”.

“Well, such upsets keep happening all the time in badminton. The next generation players are very good. Also, you need to understand I am not regular with my game and neither do I practise and train regularly like I used to,” he said.

He put his Wednesday’s win in perspective when he said: “When I was match point down I did not think I would win the match. At that time I was thinking, if I lose it will be okay but I just tried to focus and that helped me to win three straight points to level the match. Kashyap is a good player but today he was not so lucky.”

What Hidayat did not say was that the Indian may not get another opportunity to get at him once he retires and his awesome head-to-head record of winning all the seven matches with him would haunt Kashyap.

Asked how India can produce more and more champions, Hidayat said: “Go the China way, look at them they are absolutely uncatchable.”

Hidayat, also the 2005 World Champion, obviously was referring to how the Chinese state does everything possible to produce top-class champions.

The simple fact is that the Chinese government literally forces them to be champions by providing all help. For instance, takes care of the players’ housing, food and training and all they have to do is just keep playing the game and get competition-fit, he pointed out.

Hidayat will hang up his racquet after the Indonesia Open Super Series Premier in June. On his retirement plans, the 31-year-old said he would continue to be associated with the game through his academy and try to repay his debt to the sport.

“I have my own academy called the Taufik Hidayat Arena. After I retire, I will just concentrate and work there and try to contribute something back to the sport that gave me so much,” he said

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