DJARUM SUPERLIGA – Veteran men falter, Japan’s women start strong

Both of Japan’s women’s teams won their first group matches at the 2013 Djarum Superliga, while veteran men’s stars Lee Chong Wei and Simon Santoso fell to lower-ranked players. By […]

Both of Japan’s women’s teams won their first group matches at the 2013 Djarum , while veteran men’s stars Lee Chong Wei and Simon Santoso fell to lower-ranked players.

By Don Hearn.  Photos: Ira Ratnati (live)

Lee Chong Wei (pictured) came to Surabaya at the helm of a multinational force for Indonesian team PB Musica but dropped the crucial first singles point to compatriot and French Open winner Liew Daren.  Tommy Sugiarto and Lee Hyun Il did save some face for the Indonesian team, however, by winning the other two singles points.

From the time Liew won, though, PB Musica was in trouble against the Malaysian Tigers, who fielded Malaysia’s #2 and #3 men’s doubles teams against PB Musica’s scratch pairings.  Even so, Hoon Thien How / Tan Wee Kiong’s win over Rian Sukmawan / Rendra Wijaya (pictured below) did not come easily, lasting three games and exactly one hour.

In contrast, PB Tangkas Specs survived the surprise loss of its veteran star Simon Santoso at the hands of Russian Open champion Kazumasa Sakai.

They had two more singles aces to fall back on in Nguyen Tien Minh and Alamsyah Yunus and Gideon Marcus Fernaldi / Wahyu Nayaka Arya Pankarnariya pulled out the needed doubles point to give Tangkas Specs the edge over the Unisys men’s team.

“I am not in a good condition after a 5-week break.  I lack preparation,” said Simon afterward.  “Besides, Kazumasa was playing quite well.  In the rest of the tournament, if the team chooses me to play, I will give my best.”

PB. Jaya Raya Suryanaga, the team representing the host city, beat the team event sponsor as PB Djarum suffered the first day’s most decisive defeat.  Sony Dwi Kuncoro and Hong Kong’s top two grabbed all three of the singles points, rendering Ryan Agung Saputra / Alvent Yulianto Chandra’s doubles win an added bonus.

“I enjoyed the game and before the battle, I believe that I could win this game,” said Sony Dwi Kuncoro (pictured) of his match against Dionysius Hayom Rumbaka, a repeat of their Indonesia Grand Prix Gold final this past autumn.

Japanese women earn tough wins

Both of Japan’s women’s teams, Renasas and Unisys began with victories.  Korea Ginseng’s two Baes won their singles matches but with one doubles team and one singles player lacking in experience, the key match in their tie against Renasas was the doubles between former partners Jung Kyung Eun / Yoo Hyun Young and Miyuki Maeda / Satoko Suetsuna, which went to the Japanese veterans.

Unisys fielded a slightly understrength women’s team against the Malaysian Tigers but they still took the first two singles points as well as the expected doubles victory from world #5 Misaki Matsutomo / Ayaka Takahashi, who won in two very close games over Amelia Alicia Anscelly / Soong Fie Choo.

“I was playing more relaxed because I already knew that my team was going to win,” said Ayaka Takahashi (pictured) after her match.  “Our target is able to pass the qualifying round, then after that we can see another step.

“I was willing to play here because we like the crowd.  We have a league in Japan but the spectators aren’t as loud as in Indonesia.”

Click here for complete Day 1 results

Don Hearn

About Don Hearn

Don Hearn is an Editor and Correspondent who hails from a badminton-loving town in rural Canada. He joined the Badzine team in 2006 to provide coverage of the Korean badminton scene and is committed to helping Badzine to promote badminton to the place it deserves as a global sport. Contact him at: don @