Five finalists looking for their first title of the year again had to step aside as five others added to their title count for 2012, beginning with Misaki Matsutomo / Ayaka Takahashi taking their third Grand Prix title.
By Don Hearn. Photos: Ira Ratnati (live from Palembang)
Finals day at the Bukit Asam Indonesia Open Grand Prix Gold began with the only contest between two visiting pairs. Korea’s Eom Hye Won and Jang Ye Na, looking for their first title since their home victory last December, were slight underdogs against Misaki Matsutomo / Ayaka Takahashi (pictured) of Japan, who enjoyed a pair of titles on the eastern rim of the Pacific in July.
This was the first of two finals between the two top seeds but was by far the longest match of the day, even if all three games were somewhat one-sided. The Japanese pair came out on top to take their third Grand Prix title of the year, winning 21-12, 12-21, 21-13.
“It was a tough match,” said Ayaka Takahashi afterward. “We just couldn’t play in the second game. But we are happy with this result, we are now targeting making it to the world’s top 4.”
The next two matches were all-Indonesia affairs and it was the veterans who prevailed in both. Sony Dwi Kuncoro (pictured) allowed Dionysius Hayom Rumbaka to add another silver to his medal collection from the past three editions of the Indonesia Grand Prix Gold, but kept the best prize for himself and celebrated on the podium with his daughter.
“Hayom seemed to be having problems with his leg,” explained Sony after the final. “He’s not in prime condition, so I guess all the things that I did on court, I was trying to advance point by point and I was able to clinch the match.”
“This year is my comeback year. I feel good. My injury wasn’t a big deal anymore. All I have to do is some physical training. It’s been a while since the last time I’ve practiced hard.”
“My foot was really hurting,” admitted Hayom. “It occurred when I was playing in the second round.
“But I tried to keep playing, and yesterday, it really started to hurt. I didn’t want to disappoint people. They’d bought their tickets. It is better for me to play, than to give up without any effort. I need to heal my left foot, though, and I have withdrawn from the Chinese Taipei Grand Prix Gold, and will prepare for the Denmark Open.”
It took exactly the same amount of time for Tontowi Ahmad / Lilyana Natsir to take the mixed doubles title from compatriots Muhammad Rijal / Debby. The top seeds thus added to the one Grand Prix Gold and two Superseries titles they had already earned in 2012.
The turn was then for home underdogs to try to keep the remaining two titles at home in the face of stiff competition from abroad. First, Australian Open champion Han Li made quick work of first-time Grand Prix finalist Yeni Asmarani.
“I never think about the competition within the women’s singles squad in China,” said Han Li after her final. “All I think about is how I can play at my best, and get the best result. I was nervous at the beginning because there is a lot of people here.”
“It wasn’t Li who made me nervous, but the crowd,” said Yeni. “This was my first experience to play in a final, and in front of thousands of people. I hope I will do better next time.”
Finally, Angga Pratama and Ryan Agung Saputra (pictured) were the ones who had to deal with the truly in-form pair. Themselves winless since the Vietnam Open last summer, the Indonesians took on Korea’s Kim Sa Rang and Kim Ki Jung, winners of the Asian Championships as well as last weekend’s Japan Open Superseries. The Koreans closed out the shortest match of the day in only 24 minutes to take their second straight title.
“I was hoping to playing at my best,” said Ryan, “but the all of those burdens are like a boomerang and made me unable to play as well as before.”
“We were totally the ones under pressure,” added Angga.
WD: Misaki Matsutomo / Ayaka Takahashi (JPN)  bt Eom Hye Won / Jang Ye Na (KOR)  21-12, 12-21, 21-13
MS: Sony Dwi Kuncoro (INA)  bt Dionysius Hayom Rumbaka (INA)  21-11, 21-11
XD: Tontowi Ahmad / Lilyana Natsir (INA)  bt Muhammad Rijal / Debby Susanto (INA)  21-19, 21-14
WS: Han Li (CHN)  bt Yeni Asmarani (INA) 21-12, 21-10
MD: Kim Ki Jung / Kim Sa Rang (KOR)  bt Angga Pratama / Ryan Agung Saputra (INA)  21-13, 21-9
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