NEW DELHI Indian rookie H.S. Prannoy fulfilled a long-cherished dream on Thursday, playing childhood idol Taufik Hidayat and beating him by frequently unleashing effective backhand strokes he modelled on the retiring Indonesian stalwart.
Former world and Olympic champion Hidayat, 31, will hang up his racket in June and he clearly struggled against an Indian 11 years younger as the Indonesian went down 26-24, 21-9 in the round of 16 at the India Open super series tournament.
Prannoy looked dazed after wrapping up the victory in 40 minutes to reach the quarter-finals where the Indian is set to face world number one Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia.
"It was a dream to play him. More than winning, I was thinking more about coming and playing him here," said the Indian wiping a bead of sweat from his brow before paying rich tribute to the versatile Indonesian.
"He's a very fancy player. We get to see so many fancy strokes from him.
"Obviously in childhood days, everybody wants to imitate their idols. I did it so many times. I'm a professional player now and I have my own strokes. But if you notice, I have a strong backhand and I learnt it from watching him, the basic technique of hitting a backhand," said the Indian.
Hidayat did not, however, linger to confirm the similarity and immediately left the court.
A bigger challenge awaits Prannoy in the next round and the Indian said it was just the kind of exposure he was looking for.
"It's a dream tournament for me, playing Taufik and Lee Chong Wei back-to-back. I'll do my best."
(Editing by Patrick Johnston)
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