Badminton Life

Taufik Withdraws from ABC

Defending champion Taufik Hidayat of Indonesia has pulled out of the Asian Badminton Championships.

Taufik would have been seeded fifth at the tournament so his withdrawal doesn't affect the top four seedings, with China's world champion Lin Dan first and Malaysian Lee Chong Wei second.

Hidayat, the champion in 2000, 2004 and 2007, did not travel with the team. Indonesian team manager Luis Pongoh said a back injury was the main reason though there could be other reasons.

He said Taufik could also be focusing his attentions on next month's Thomas Cup Finals in Jakarta.

He told AFP: "That was what he told us but there could be other reasons. For one, Indonesia are giving the Thomas Cup Finals serious attention. That could also be a reason for his withdrawal as he wants to regain the Thomas Cup for Indonesia after losing to China twice in the last two Finals."

In his absence, Indonesia will be banking on two experienced players, Sony Dwi Kuncoro and Simon Santoso.

Lin is expected to meet Lee in the final and he said: "It is a big tournament and Chong Wei is always a danger. It has been close affairs in our previous meetings."

It is only the second time that Lin is competing in the Asian championships, following the 2001 event in Manila, where he finished runner-up.

"I want to play in Malaysia at least once before the Olympics. I have not been playing well of late," he said.

The Chinese also wants to get in tune for the Thomas Cup Finals from May 11-18.

"It is always different and difficult playing in Indonesia. The Indonesians are very passionate people when it comes to badminton, especially when playing at home. You have to control your emotions when playing in front of the Indonesian crowd."

There was disappointment in the women's draw as well with the top four Chinese players, Olympic champion Zhang Ning, Xie Xingfang, Zhu Lin and Lu Lan all pulling out.

In their absence, Hong Kong's Wang Chen will be top seed in the women's singles while Malaysia's Wong Mew Choo is seeded behind her.

In the men's doubles, Malaysia's Choong Tan Fook-Lee Wah Wah, aiming for a hat-trick of titles, are the top seeds, ahead of All-England champions Jung Jae-sung-Lee Yong-dae of South Korea.

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