ASIAN GAMES 2018 SF – 3 golds in a row for Indonesia!

Indonesians managed to defend the men’s doubles gold medals earned 4 – and 8 – years ago.  The hosts also still have the opportunity to add a men’s singles gold, […]

Indonesians managed to defend the men’s doubles gold medals earned 4 – and 8 – years ago.  The hosts also still have the opportunity to add a men’s singles gold, courtesy of Jonatan Christie.

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

Indonesia succeeded in ensuring they would win a gold medal from the men’s doubles in badminton at the 2018 .  In the semi-final match held at Istora Senayan, the two home representatives successfully stepped into the final round.

First came the upset. Fajar Alfian / Muhammad Rian Ardianto (pictured right) qualified after winning the match against newly crowned World Champions Li Jinhui / Liu Yuchen, 21-14, 19-21, 21-13.

The world #9 pair performed so well in the first game by taking control in front of the net, leaving their opponents unable to develop their game.  Unfortunately in the second game, it was Alfian/Ardianto who found it difficult to surpass the net strategy played by the Chinese.

In the third game, Alfian/Ardianto regained control of the front game and managed to avoid lifting, which was indeed the main key to defeating the World Champions.  After leading 16-10, they increased the pressure on Li Junhui and Liu Yuchen (pictured below) and finally the ticket to the final was successfully theirs.

“Because our opponents are very tall, our coach instructed us not to lift the shuttle too much, and just to play flat shots,” Alfian said.

“We were ready from the start, and we put a lot of pressure on our opponents.  They were not performing well.  In the second game we made a lot of mistakes at critical points,” added Ardianto.

These successful footsteps were also followed, as expected, by their compatriots Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo / Marcus Fernaldi Gideon (pictured).  The world #1 pair successfully defeated Lee Jhe-huei / Lee Yang in three games.

Playing with the overwhelming support of home fans, Sukamuljo/Gideon managed to defeat the Chinese Taipei pair with a final score of 21-15, 20-22 and 21-12.

The victories by both Indonesian pairs managed to realize the dream of the home supporters for an all-Indonesian final in the men’s doubles.  This is also a good result, especially for Alfian/Ardianto.  Just two years ago, they were not even playing the Superseries yet but now, they have a Super 500 title to their name and have been in the Indonesia Open semis two years in a row so this is the next big step.

Of course, 4 years ago at the Asian Games in Incheon, another Indonesian veteran, Hendra Setiawan was successfully taking home his second straight Asiad gold medal.  He won that time with Mohammad Ahsan to add to his gold from Guangzhou in 2010 with Markis Kido.

Just one in the hand

Indonesia actually had the opportunity to create an all-Indonesian final in the men’s singles as well.  Unfortunately, only Jonatan Christie (pictured left) made it to the finals.  Christie managed to advance to the final round after defeating Kenta Nishimoto in a rubber game with scores of 21-15, 15-21 and 21-19.

“I first didn’t expect that I could reach the final in my second Asian Games, and this year is the first time I played in the individual event,” said Christie.

“I am really happy and overwhelmed with the support of the Indonesian fans who have supported me on court and in front of their TV sets,” he added.

The other Indonesian representative, Anthony Sinisuka Ginting – after doing so much heavy lifting by beating both the Olympic and World Champions – failed to advance to the final as he was stopped by the 4th seed from Taiwan, Chou Tien Chen (pictured below).  Ginting won the first game and had match point in the second but he lifted long to end a spectacular rally and let the game slip away 21-23.

“I do my best every time and try to come out as a winner,” an exhausted Chou said after the hard-fought win.

Of the upcoming title clash, Chou said, “Christie is a very good player and tomorrow will be a great final.  Rankings don’t matter, it’s how you perform that day.”

Thus, Anthony failed to create the all-Indonesian final to meet Jonatan Christie in the gold medal race.  Anthony must be satisfied with a bronze medal.

As for Christie, he goes into the final having never lost to the much higher-ranked Chou Tien Chen.  Chou has many more titles to his name but Christie has been moving up fast, and has added 3 more since he reached his first major final just 15 months ago.  Tuesday’s final will miss by a day the anniversary of his only major title to date, the 2017 SEA Games gold.

As with Indonesia, so with India

As in the men’s singles, women’s singles had a chance of producing a final between compatriots.  But what would have been a fifth consecutive time was prevented when only one Indian semi-finalist, Pusarla Venkata Sindhu (pictured bottom), made it through.

Saina Nehwal was stopped by world #1 Tai Tzu Ying (pictured left) in straight games, meaning that Chinese Taipei, like Indonesia, still has a chance at two golds.  Meanwhile, Sindhu beat Japan’s Akane Yamaguchi to add the Asian Games to her incredible list of finals in the last 2 years, which include the Rio Olympics, the Superseries Finals, and two World Championships.  But can she claim her first victory over Tai since Rio and with it, the Asiad gold?

Tuesday finals line-up
MS:  Chou Tien Chen (TPE) [4] vs. Jonatan Christie (INA)
WS:  Tai Tzu Ying (TPE) [1] vs. Pusarla Venkata Sindhu (IND) [3]
MD:  Marcus Fernaldi Gideon / Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo (INA) [1] vs. Fajar Alfian / Muhammad Rian Ardianto (INA)

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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.