Tontowi Ahmad/Liliyana Natsir began their mixed-doubles title defense on Wednesday as Indonesian shuttlers eyed modest targets at the All England badminton championship.
“Our targets are the semifinals for the men’s singles and men’s doubles and finals for the mixed doubles,” Gita Wiryawan, chairman of the Indonesian Badminton Association ( PBSI ), told The Jakarta Post via text message on Tuesday. “But if they could win the final [...] praise the Lord,” he said, adding that the squad still considered China as the toughest opponent in the competition.
The PBSI is fielding 17 shuttlers in the men’s singles, women’s singles, men’s doubles, women’s doubles and mixed doubles. The week-long event is taking place in Birmingham, England, with qualifying held on Tuesday.
Tontowi/Lilyana, who faced Michael Fuchs/Birgit Michels of Germany on Wednesday, won their first All England title last year, marking the end of Indonesia’s title drought in the prestigious event. Indonesia had last won the mixed doubles title in the event in 1979 with Christian Hadinata and Imelda Wiguna.
Indonesia last won at the All England in 2003 when men’s doubles pair Sigit Budiarto and Candra Wijaya triumphed.
Tontowi and Lilyana, however, have since had an uneven performance. In the London Olympics that followed in August, they failed to win a medal. Earlier this year, they only reached the quarterfinals at the Korean Open.
Christian Hadinata, an official of the PBSI national training camp, was hopeful that other players could steal the show. “We have high hopes for our new men’s doubles pair Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan who just won the Malaysia Open,” he said, adding that an advance to the final would be hailed as creditable.
Hopes are also pinned on Tommy Sugiarto, who was runner up at the preceding German Open Grand Prix Gold 2013 in Mulheim.
Tommy said his German showing would boost his confidence for a better performance in Birmingham.
“Even though the level of players is different to that of the All England, [the German Open] was attended by many good badminton superseries players like Chen Long,” he said as quoted by kompas.com.
Men’s singles: Sony Dwi Kuncoro, Tommy Sugiarto, Dionysius Hayom Rumbaka
Women’s singles: Linda Wenifanetri, Aprilia Yuswandari, Bellaetrix Manuputty, Adriyanti Firdasari
Men’s doubles: Rian Agung Saputro/Angga Pratama, Muhammad Ulinnuha/Ricky Karanda, Hendra Setiawan/Mohammad Ahsan
Women’s doubles: Nitya Krishinda M /Anneke Feinya A, Suci Rizki Andini/Della Destiara Haris, Tiara Rosalia N/Gebby Ristiyani I, Greysia Polii/Anggia Shitta Awanda
Mixed doubles: Tontowi Ahmad/Liliyana Natsir, Muhammad Rijal/Debby Susanto, Fran Kurniawan/Shendy Puspa, Riky Widianto/Richi Puspita Dili
— JP/Irawaty Wardany