Sat, 15 May 2004

Denmark to face China in Thomas Cup final match

Eva Komandjaja and Novan Iman Santosa, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Indonesia's Thomas Cup team suffered a devastating loss on its home soil as it failed to advance to the final after being stopped by Denmark 2-3 in the semifinals here on Friday.

Peter Rasmussen decided the Danes' victory, which was their first in 12 matchups between the two teams, posting a 15-3, 15-13 win over young Indonesian Simon Santoso.

As Simon's return flopped onto the net, the Denmark team could not contain their joy and hugged each other on court, while the home fans, who packed the 10,000-capacity Bung Karno Indoor Stadium, fell silent in dejection.

Denmark will face China in the final on Sunday. China took its ticket with an easy 3-0 win over South Korea.

After a lopsided matchup between China and Korea earlier in the day, Indonesia and Denmark provided a tight rivalry.

Indonesia jumped to the lead twice but Denmark, whose female team was stopped by Korea in the semifinals on Thursday, managed to equal the score each time.

Sony Dwi Kuncoro put Indonesia in front with a 15-4, 15-8 win over Peter Gade amid strong support from the home crowd.

The world No. 6 Gade seemed hapless against the younger, world No. 9 Sony, who pushed his opponent to every corner with his accurate placement and tricky set-ups.

Gade took the first point and led 2-1 but Sony was unstoppable and raced to a 11-2 lead.

Gade took another two points before Sony halted him to win the opening game.

Gade, who inspired the Danish team to win the European championship title in April, built an initial 3-0 lead, capitalizing on a slipup in the defense by Sony. But the Indonesian steadied his pace to make it a tightly fought game.

Both players twice broke level at 4-4 and 8-8, before Sony marched through to victory after an hour-long match.

The victory also gave Sony a 2-1 lead in their head-to-head matches.

The Danes were back in contention after world champions Lars Paaske and Jonas Rasmussen defeated Flandy Limpele and Eng Hian 15-13 and 15-7.

Flandy and Eng Hian took to the court confident of extending their winning streak over the Danes after winning all three of their previous matches.

However, they found the Danish pair distinctly solid this time around. The home pair were tough to beat in the first game. They even had an opportunity to snatch the opener when they took over the lead 12-11 only to let it melt down toward the end.

The Indonesians seemed to run out of offensive resources when they fell 5-0 behind. The Danes continued their rampage to pull to a 12-1 lead. Flandy and Eng Hian tried to fight back. They managed to add more points but the point margin was too wide for them to overhaul.

Flandy and Eng Hian were the best option as the first doubles pair, as Alven Yulianto and Luluk Hadiyanto were the weaker side against Paaske and Rasmussen based on their head-to-head record.

Taufik Hidayat, currently ranked No. 17 in the world, had to battle hard before subduing Kenneth Jonassen to put Indonesia back in the lead.

Taufik did not give Jonassen an opportunity to improve his play as the Indonesian blistered to a 9-0 lead. He kept his opponent under control in the rest of the game to seal the opener 15-5.

It looked as if Taufik would have needed just two games to scrape in as winner when he jumped to 5-0. At 7-3, Taufik sent Jonassen sliding across the court to return the shuttlecock to no avail, making it 8-3 for the home hero.

The Dane, however, refused to sit back. At 14-13 for Jonassen, Taufik's smash crashed onto the net while the Dane was kneeling on the court.

Taufik regained composure with wild smashes and cunning flicks over the net to win the decider 15-7.

The makeshift pair of Candra Wijaya and Tri Kusharjanto failed to wrap up Indonesia's victory after they were beaten 15-10, 2- 15, 15-4, which swung the encounter to a decider and eventual victory for the Danes.