Badminton Life

High Hopes for Indonesian Pair

Although former Olympic champion Taufik Hidayat has made a U-turn and will play in this week's Super Series Masters Finals, it is his compatriot Sony Dwi Kuncoro who has the best chance of taking honours for Indonesia.

Sony has had one of the best seasons of any player in 2008 and is likely to be one of the favourites given the absence of Chinese players Lin Dan, Chen Jin and Bao Chunlai.

The second-seeded Sony has been grouped with Taufik, Danish player Joachim Persson and England's Andrew Smith in Group B.

Group A features world number one Lee Chong Wei, of Malaysia, Denmark's Peter Gade-Christensen, Malaysian Wong Choong Hann and Hong Kong's Chan Yan-kit.

Sony, the Beijing Olympic quarter-finalist, won the Japan Open and China Masters in September, scoring victories over Lee and Taufik. However, he has suffered from injuries since then and his form dropped.

However, Indonesian singles coach Hendrawan believes Sony can use the season-ending, US$500,000 tournament to get back to winning ways.

"Sony's career has been plagued by injuries. But he is now back in good condition and we hope that he can pull off something here," he said.

Hendrawan believes it will be tough for the two Indonesian men's singles players but he is confident they will give it their best.

He said: "The draw is fair and balanced. On current form, Chong Wei and the two Danes are strong contenders for the title.

"But I am hoping for Sony and Taufik to make a comeback here. It does not matter that they are in the same group. Both can make the semi-finals as the top two finishers in the group."

Lee is still waiting for his first tournament victory as world number one, which he assumed for the third time in his career in September.

Despite being drawn against his compatriot Wong and Gade-Christensen, Lee is confident of making the semi-finals.

He said: "The draw has not changed anything for me. It is just unfortunate that two Malaysians are in the same group. I will give my best to make the semi-finals.

"I am happy that Taufik will play in the Finals after all. It will add more competitive edge to the tournament. This is what the fans want." Hong Kong's Zhou Mi is favourite for the women's singles title but fans will be watching out for Indian teen sensation Saina Nehwal.

Nehwal is in Group B alongside Denmark's All England champion Tine Rasmussen and France's Pi Hongyan and Malaysia's Mew Choo.

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