Rivals for a decade, Tan-Hendra pair up

The 32-year-old Setiawan had won 2008 Olympic gold medal and three World Championships in 2007, 2013 and 2015 respectively while Tan Boon is a 2007 All England champion and silver and bronze medallist at the World Championships in 2010 and 2009.

"Although we have been opponents on court we were always friends." said Tan Boon regarding his relationship with Indonesia's Hendra Setiawan.   -  Getty Images

After being rivals on court for more than a decade, Indonesian Hendra Setiawan and Malaysian Tan Boon Heong have started a new chapter by pairing up together, eyeing to qualify for the World Championship to be held at Glasgow, Scotland in August.

The 32-year-old Setiawan had won 2008 Olympic gold medal along with partner Markis Kido, besides winning the World Championship thrice 2007, 2013 and 2015, while Tan Boon is a 2007 All England champion and silver and bronze medallist at the World Championships in 2010 and 2009.

“I had quit National association two years back. From last year he decided to stop playing with his partner, so we discussed and decided to play together. His thinking is also like me,” the soft-spoken Setiawan told the agencies on the sidelines of the Syed Modi International Grand Prix Gold tournament.

“Although we have been opponents on court we were always friends. It has been last 2-3 years we have been communicating regularly. Otherwise we would just say hi to each other,” Tan added.

“We wanted to try something new, we needed a new challenge,” said Setiawan, who is three-time former gold medallist at Asia Championships.

Asked about their targets, Setiawan said, “This year we try to qualify for world championship this year, even though there is not much time since it is the first tournament we are playing, so we’ll be playing the All England and the aim will be to qualify for world.”

“Also we don’t know what is our standard right now, so we would want to take it step by step,” Tan Boon added.

How do they train? Tan Boon, who formed the formidable “Diamond pair” of Malaysia alongwith Koo Kien Keat for around 10 years, said, “Sometimes I go to Indonesia as the Indonesian national team also want us to be sparring there and sometime he comes to Malaysia.”

So will they miss playing the team events for their country? “We are playing for the country but not for the national team. It depends on them, if they want us we will be available. We are open,” Tan said.

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