Indonesia Hobble Past Chinese Taipei – Sudirman Cup ’19

Friday, May 24, 2019
TEXT BY DEV SUKUMAR | BADMINTONPHOTO

Indonesia scored a scratchy 3-2 victory over Chinese Taipei to make the semifinals of the TOTAL BWF Sudirman Cup 2019 in Nanning today.

The 1989 champions, looking for their second title, made heavy weather against a team that was fielding a less-than-fully-fit Tai Tzu Ying and a scratch mixed doubles combination.

Marcus Fernaldi Gideon (right) and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo didn’t let their foot off the pedal.

Indonesia was off to a flying start with the out-of-form ‘Minions’ – Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo – emerging intact after a rapid-fire gun battle with Wang Chi-Lin and Lee Yang, 21-17 21-17.

Tai Tzu Ying has been recovering from a leg injury, which has noticeably slowed her down during this event, but Gregoria Mariska Tunjung was listless. The Indonesian moved with heavy feet, showing no stomach for a good fight. The match was over in just half-an-hour, with Tai putting Chinese Taipei level (21-16 21-14).

Chou Tien Chen beat an off-colour Jonatan Christie to put his team 2-1 ahead.

It got worse for Indonesia.

Jonatan Christie was favourite against Chou Tien Chen, for he had won all their five previous matches, notably the high-pressure Asian Games final in Jakarta.

Perhaps it was the effect of all the expectations, but the Indonesian had the appearance of someone who had yet to shake off his slumber. There was not an ounce of confidence in him, and he straggled on even as Chou happily fired one winner after another. The match had a rout written all over it, ending just 36 minutes after it had started, 21-11 21-13 to Chou Tien Chen.

Christie struggled to explain his lackadaisical display.

“I don’t know what happened. I didn’t play my best. He was more ready than me. When my coach told me I was playing, I felt ready, but today he was better. This was the first I was playing this tournament, but I didn’t feel good at all,” said Christie.

Chinese Taipei’s two women’s doubles pairs had struggled in the group phase, and their troubles continued in the quarterfinal with a third combination. No.61 Pai Yu Po/Wu Ti Jung took on Greysia Polii/Apriyani Rahayu; the Indonesians overwhelmed them in 36 minutes, 21-13 21-7.

Wang Chi-Lin returned for the mixed doubles with Hsieh Pei Shan, another fresh combination for Chinese Taipei. The lack of experience together showed, with Praveen Jordan and Melati Daeva Oktavianti able to find gaps in their defence. The only time it got sticky for the Indonesians was when they let an 18-9 lead slip, with several nervous errors by Melati at the front, until Chinese Taipei inched close at 15-18. Before it got any tighter, Jordan played a smart service return to Wang Chi-Lin, and the Indonesians nailed the winner 21-17 21-15.

Greysia Polii (left) and Apriyani Rahayu were too strong for Pai Yu Po and Wu Ti Jung.

“We were nervous but we knew that our opponents were nervous as well. We didn’t want to pressurise ourselves and think about how crucial this match was, all we did was to play our best,” said Oktavianti.

Talking Point

“We have to cheer for our team. When a player loses a match, it’s about the loss for the team as a whole, not for the individual. This is what a team is meant for.” – Greysia Polii, on the two Indonesian singles losses.