Simon gives solace to fans as Tontowi-Liliyana tumble
In a finals day packed with action, Indonesian Simon Santoso gave a heart-warming performance for the home crowd as he managed to win the 2012 men’s singles title at the Djarum Indonesia Open Superseries Premier on Sunday, while hopeful pair Tontowi Ahmad-Liliyana Natsir lost in anti-climatic fashion.
Simon’s victory was a tonic for the country’s badminton fans after missing out on the title for last three years. It was Simon’s first title this year following wins against China’s world No. 10 Du Pengyu 21-18, 13-21, 21-11 in 1 hour and 19 minutes.
“I really wanted to win this title after losing to [Indonesian] Sony [Dwi Kuncoro] in 2008’s Indonesia Open final,” 26-year-old Simon told a press conference at the Istora Senayan Indoor Stadium in Central Jakarta.
So far, Simon has collected two wins from a total of four meetings against the Chinese. Simon, who has earned a spot in the Olympic Games in London in July-August, said that the Indonesian Open and the Singapore Open next week were part of his preparation for the games.
But success was not found across the board. Indonesia’s most dependable mixed pair, world No. 3 Tontowi Ahmad-Liliyana Natsir, suffered a shocking 21-17, 17-21, 21-13 defeat to Thailand’s world No. 9 Sudket Prapakamol-Saralee Thoungthongkam in the closing match of the day.
“We have to admit that the Thai pair played better than us. Maybe there were many factors, because we had a long match yesterday [Saturday, against world No. 2 Xu Chen-Ma Jin in the semifinals], it must’ve influenced us today,” said 26-year-old Liliyana. “However, we can use this loss to fix our performance for the Olympics.”
Prior to the Indonesia Open, Tontowi and Liliyana had secured a hat trick of victories in 2012 tournament competition. Triumphant pair Prapakamol-Thouthongkam said that they were more than happy to be able to defeat the favorites Tontowi-Liliyana in front of the home crowd.
Thouthongkam said that it was harder to upset the Indonesians when compared with embarrassing China’s world No. 1 pair of Zhang Nan-Zhao Yunlei in the event’s quarterfinal round.
In the women’s singles, Indian world No. 5 Saina Nehwal won her third Indonesian Open title in a match where she earned the full support of most spectators, which reached nearly 7,000 in the stadium. She defeated world No. 3 Li Xuerui 13-21, 22-20, 21-19 in 1 hour and 4 minutes.
Losing the first game did not deter the 22-year-old from Hisar district in Haryana, India, from winning the match. Nehwal came back in the second game, saying that the match then turned in her favor.
“I think match point was the turning point. I think she made an error at 19-20 and then at 20 all. So I just kept on working for continuous points,” the winner of Indonesia Open in 2009, 2010 and now 2012 told reporters.
Nehwal, who has collected two victories out of six meetings against 21-year-old Li, said that winning against Chinese players had always been a laudable achievement. In the 2012 Indonesia Open, Nehwal dispatched two Chinese shuttlers, Wang Shixian (world No. 3) to reach the semifinal round and now Li in the final.
Earlier, China’s world No. 1 pair Wang Xiaoli-Yang Yu retained their Indonesia Open’s women’s doubles title after outclassing compatriots and world No. 2 Tian Qing-Zhao Yunlei 17-21, 21-9, 21-16 within an hour.
In the men’s doubles, world No. 2 pair Jung Jae-sung–Lee Yong-dae of South Korea also outshined Denmark’s world No. 3 duo of Mathias Boe-Carsten Mogensen 23-21, 19-21, 21-11.