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Jakarta Post

Tontowi, Liliyana in final as Chinese duo await

  • Musthofid

    The Jakarta Post

Incheon, South Korea   /   Mon, September 29, 2014   /  11:47 am

All that now stands between Indonesia'€™s mixed doubles pair Tontowi Ahmad/Liliyana Natsir and badminton gold is the Chinese world number one pairing, after the former booked a ticket in the final on Sunday.

Tontowi/Liliyana are now set to take on Chinese duo Zhang Nan/Zhao Yunlei on Monday.

In the semifinal, the Indonesian pair pummeled another Chinese pair Xu Chen/Ma Jin 21-12, 21-15 at the Gyeyang Gymnasium on Sunday in an unexpectedly lopsided encounter between two world-class pairs.

Earlier, Zhang/Zhao had defeated Praveen Jordan/Debby Susanto 21-9, 9-21, 21-15 to deny an all-Indonesia final.

Tontowi/Liliyana needed less than half an hour to dispatch Xu/Ma in an encounter that showed their supremacy in attack and depth in defense. However, they expect a tougher tussle on Monday in the final.

'€œThey [Zhang/Zhao] are Olympic champions. We must be more prepared and more focused,'€ Liliyana said.

The two pairs are well matched, having beaten each other an equal amount of times in their previous 10 meetings, with the last match in the All England Open won by the Indonesians.

However, Liliyana said they would try not to get carried away by their All England victory for fear of complacency.

'€œWe will treat the next game as if we are starting over again. We should not lose focus. Hopefully we can continue to play better and better,'€ she said.

Liliyana was resolute in marshalling the front area with her cunning net game earning a flurry of points to help end the match quickly.

At 7-7 in the first game, she fell when rushing to return a shot, but somehow recovered her footing to keep herself in the point, before dealing out a deadly backhand reply that left her opponents looking on.

The second game saw the Indonesian pair win 11 points on the trot, with Liliyana continuing her superb play and Tontowi piling up his thundering smashes from the rear.

'€œI told myself I had to be better than Ma Jin,'€ Liliyana said.

They raced to 19-7 and after a brief letup where their opponents collected three consecutive points, they scored the last two points after Ma'€™s return landed outside the court and Xu failed to return a serve from Liliyana.

A group of Indonesian supporters that had out sung their Chinese counterparts, chanted '€œthank you, thank you'€ to their idols.

'€œWe didn'€™t expect to win easily. In previous matches, our scores were always close. It was only through constant focus that we were able to beat them,'€ Tontowi said.

Liliyana said the team'€™s success in winning gold in the women'€™s doubles had given them extra motivation.

Greysia Polii/Nitya Krishinda Maheswari defied the odds to win Indonesia'€™s first gold of this year'€™s games after they defeated a Japanese pair in the final on Saturday.

'€œWe didn'€™t have any expectations for the women'€™s doubles, but they delivered. We wanted to show that we could too,'€ she said.