It’s probably been over a decade since Taufik Hidayat played a match where he had to work so little. As he walked his way to a 21-3, 21-10 victory, it’s doubtful the Olympic champion broke a sweat. It’s a rare occasion that a player like Taufik goes to North America for a tournament, I’m actually suspicious that he may have come for a holiday to see his old friends Tony Gunawan and Halim Haryanto who are both living in the US now. Disneyland and Hollywood are sure to be on his itinerary. So far all of the mens singles seeds have been relatively unchallenged in their matches, with only Dicky Palyama gone as he withdrew from the tournament. The next few rounds could prove to be interesting, but all of it is inconsequential as the likelihood of Taufik not winning this tournament is extremely low. I am curious however to see how well a number of different players could do against him, first of which could be Canada’s David Snider. Very unlikely to win (see hell freezing over in the dictionary), but a potentially fun one to watch.
In the women’s singles there have been few surprises. Perhaps some upsets on paper, but few surprises. Canada’s Michelle Li defeated American Shannon Pohl, but hardly a surprise as Michelle Li is solid. Another upset on paper is Mona Santoso’s win over Charmaine Reid from Canada, but hardly surprising as Mona Santoso is extremely good. I can’t remember exactly what her story is, but I’m guessing she’s a former Indonesian player from back in the day. Overall it seems to be a battle between Canada and the US, which is not surprising.
In the men’s doubles the only big names are Howard Bach and Tony Gunawan, and perhaps Halim Haryanto. But I don’t think any of these guys are still all that active on the tour these days. Howard and Tony are likely the favourites for this event, but that depends strongly on how much they have been playing lately. The women’s doubles have only had a few early round matches as the majority of the teams had byes to the second round. Finally the mixed doubles features what seems to be a number of retirees coming back for fun or players on the verge of retiring. Halim Haryanto and his partner Grace Peng, Richard Vaughn and Sarah Thomas, Tony Gunawan and Nantana Ketpura, and Howard Bach and Eva Lee.
It’s a shame that the North American events don’t get more big names out to play, but its not surprising. The events are not going to generate the same level of sponsor involvement, and as a result prize money will be much lower. With an event that is also a fair bit away from any other events, it is quite a bit of travel for one event, especially if it doesn’t pay well. At least there is Disneyland nearby.