The Jakarta Post
Top badminton players are ready to take their best shot at the 2019 Indonesia Open, the first super 1000 level event, the highest level on the badminton tournament calendar, on the road to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics since qualification opened in early May.
Kicking off today, all the world number one players in five categories are confirmed to be taking part in the tournament, which offers a total of US$1,250,000 in prize money. As host, Indonesia will still likely rely on the men’s doubles category to save the trophy.
Veteran Hendra Setiawan said the draw in the men’s doubles category, where he will play with Mohammad Ahsan, provided an equal opportunity for all pairs to win the tournament. With the competition getting tighter in the category, Hendra said he and his partner had to be ready right from the first round as tough opponents were waiting for them.
Hendra and Ahsan, who are currently the world number four pair and dubbed "the Daddies" by fans, will play against recent European Games winners Marcus Ellis and Chris Langridge of England. The Indonesian pair won their three previous encounters against the Brits.
“We have prepared for one month for this event. We have focused on strengthening our hand power and maintaining our physical condition,” Hendra said.
The 34-year-old said the main thing was to have a target, as by having that he would still find a purpose in playing the sport that he had been involved in for decades.
“Maybe some time ago I was feeling quite fed up [with my career] but not this time. Now, I don’t think too much. I am enjoying [my time],” he said.
With their track record against Ahsan and Hendra, England’s pair Chris Langridge and Marcus Ellis are expecting a tough match against the Indonesians in the first round.
Langridge said he expected the match would be difficult as the crowd at Istora Senayan would be supporting the host pair.
Langridge and Ellis have shown quite good progress. Before winning the European Games in Minsk, Russia, in late June, the pair also put on a good performance by beating the world number eight pair Kim Astrup and Anders Skaarup Rasmussen in the Sudirman Cup in May to usher their team to a historic victory over Denmark.
“One thing we can definitely take from the other two previous performances where we played well is confidence,” he said.
In the men’s singles, world number one Kento Momota is on a mission to defend his title. One of his biggest opponents and also last year’s runner up Viktor Axelsen of Denmark will not participate in this year’s tournament as he is currently battling with injury.
In a note uploaded to his Twitter account @ViktorAxelsen, the Danish shuttler said he had been experiencing a persistent pain in his leg. Apart from the injury, he has also been dealing with asthma, which prevented him from taking part in the European Games.
The current number five will be absent from the Indonesia Open and the Japan Open next week.
With the absence of Axelsen, Denmark will mostly rely on Anders Antonsen. Winning the Indonesia Masters, which was his first major victory, earlier this year, Antonsen said he had gained a lot from his visit in January as he utilized his Indonesia Masters experience to learn how to focus on his game amid the distraction coming from the noisy crowd.
Istora Senayan in Central Jakarta has been touched up with a different look to welcome the badminton fans this year. On Monday, several workers were seen making the final touches to several areas in the venue, which the tournament organizer said would be more Instagrammable to attract more millennials.