ASIAN GAMES 2018 Team SF – Hosts to take on China in men’s final

Competing under the support of thousands of host supporters, the Japanese team was forced to give up their dream of a men’s team gold.  Meanwhile, China bounced back to keep […]

Competing under the support of thousands of host supporters, the Japanese team was forced to give up their dream of a men’s team gold.  Meanwhile, China bounced back to keep alive their hope of winning a 6th gold.

Story: Naomi Indartiningrum, Badzine Correspondent live in Jakarta
Photos: Raphael Sachetat  / Badmintonphoto (live)

The Japanese men’s team team failed to advance into the finals of the men’s team event of the 2018 Asian Games. In the semi-final they were defeated 3-1 by Indonesia in an exuberant Istora Senayan, Jakarta.

Japan actually began on the winning track, leading 1-0 after the victory of Kento Momota. The newly-crowned World Champion struggled to defeat the host representative, Anthony Ginting but won in three after dropping the opener.

However, after the defeat, Indonesian players were even more motivated. The world No. 1 men’s doubles pair, Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo / Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Jonatan Christie managed to win and reversed the situation to 2-1.

Sukamuljo/Gideon managed to contribute their point by beating Takeshi Kamura / Keigo Sonoda in straight games, having recovered from the upset dealt them by the Japanese pair at the recent World Championships, where the Indonesians were overwhelming favourites to win the title

Jonatan Christie beat Kenta Nishimoto 21-15, 21-19 to put Indonesia ahead.  He too had lost to his Japanese opponent in their last meeting this year.

The home team confirmed the victory through the second men’s doubles pair, Fajar Alfian / Muhammad Rian Ardianto. Appearing in the fourth match of the tie, the world #9 did not waste the chance. Performing superbly from the start of the match, Alfian/Ardianto won two one-sided games of 21-10 over Takuto Inoue / Yuki Kaneko, a pair to whom they had previously lost all four encounters.

“I am grateful that Indonesia can advance to the final, and also that Rian and I could contribute points. Tonight we just enjoyed the match and tried to relax.  We didn’t want to be burdened,” Alfian said.

This is a great achievement for Indonesia. The last time Indonesia advanced to final of the Asian Games was in 2002 in Busan, South Korea. At that time, Indonesia failed to reach the gold medal after being beaten by the home team of South Korea in a controversial final.

4th straight Asiad final for China

In the final round, the Indonesian men’s team will face a strong opponent in the Chinese team.  China too dropped the first singles match before besting Chinese Taipei 3-1 in the semi-finals.

The Chinese team started the tie with All England champion Shi Yuqi unable to resist the neat performance of world #6 Chou Tien Chen.  Chou managed to secure the first point after winning handily 21-13, 21-19.  It was his first ever victory over the world #2.

Unfortunately, the advantage does not last long. China’s new World Champions, Li Junhui / Liu Yuchen (pictured) dominated their deciding game against World Championship bronze medallists Chen/Wang, and then Olympic gold medallist Chen Long managed to turn things around 1-2 after a fierce rubber game battle against Wang Tzu Wei (pictured below).

In the decisive match, 2017 World Champions Liu Cheng and Zhang Nan prevailed over Lee Jhe-Huei and Lee Yang (pictured bottom) 21-13, 21-17 in their debut at the tournament and this lifted China past Chinese Taipei 3-1.

At the previous meeting at Thomas Cup 2018, the Indonesian team had not been able to defeat the Chinese team with almost the same team composition. Will the Indonesians snatch their shining gold medals at home or will the Chinese team deny them an end to their 20-year wait for a return to Asiad team glory?

Click here for complete semi-final results

Naomi Indartiningrum

About Naomi Indartiningrum

Naomi began as a Badzine Correspondent in 2015, while still a Business Management student living in Jakarta. A badminton enthusiast since 2007, she mostly spends her spare time writing about local badminton events and also maintaining one of largest badminton twitter accounts in Indonesia.