Indonesia beats China, meets Denmark in semis
By Primastuti Handayani
KUALA LUMPUR (JP): Defending champion Indonesia cruised into the final four after surprisingly overcoming favorite China 4-1 in the last round-robin yellow group of the Thomas Cup championships at Putra Indoor Stadium here on Tuesday.
On the next court, host and runner-up Malaysia battled in a do-or-die match against another favorite, Denmark, before finally bowing out 4-1.
Indonesia will face Denmark in the semifinals on Friday while on Thursday China is to take on South Korea, which defeated India 4-1 on Tuesday.
Playing as the first singles, Indonesia's Hendrawan managed to overcome the pressure before nearly 12,000 spectators, including 1,500 Indonesians, to beat Ji Xinpeng 15-7, 15-12.
Playing with neat netting combined with excellent drop shots and leaping smashes, Hendrawan, number two in the world, forced Ji to commit unforced errors. Ji's offensive drop shots failed to go through the Indonesian's solid defense.
Doubles Candra Wijaya and Tony Gunawan had to fight extra hard to overcome Yu Jinhao and Chen Qiqiu 15-10, 15-11. Despite their victory, Candra and Tony still made unforced errors, especially in the first game. In the second game, Tony's outstanding performance managed to help Candra find his rhythm before concluding the match.
Second singles Taufik Hidayat, accompanied by his parents and former coach Iie Sumirat, played well in the first game to win 15-10. But in the second game, he got off to a shaky start to be downed 6-12 and unable to grab more points as Lou took the game 15-6.
In the decider, Taufik led 11-4 before his nerves got the better of him to allow Lou to narrow the margin to 10-11. But the 19-year-old world number five was able to control his emotions to play more tactically to grab the remaining four points to win 15- 10.
Unfortunately, 1996 Olympic Games gold medalists Ricky Subagja and Rexy Mainaky failed to contest Zhang Wei and Zhang Jun and bowed out at 8-15, 6-15.
In the last singles match, Marlev Mainaky, runner-up of the 1999 Grand Prix Finals, defeated Chen Hong 15-12, 15-3.
Indonesian deputy team manager Hadi Nazri admitted that China did not field its full team against Indonesia.
"If they were serious about winning, they would have fielded their best players. If we look at the IBF (International Badminton Federation) ranking, we can see that China has young, good players but we have a combination of experienced and young shuttlers."
Hadi observed Taufik's poor form in the second game.
"I see Taufik played differently today compared to his previous performance. I don't think we can judge Taufik's performance as that good today," he said.
Dane Peter Gade Christensen contributed the first point to his country, performing excellently in a tough match against Wong Choong Hann, who seemed to be very nervous in the match, to conclude 15-7, 15-6.
But Malaysian number one duo of Lee Wan Wah and Choong Tan Fook, cheered on by the full-house, managed to tie 1-1 after defeating Martin Lundgaard Hansen and Lars Paaske 15-12, 15-10 in a very tough match.
Denmark earned a second point with 1996 Olympic Games champion Poul-Erik Hoyer-Larsen who survived the crowd's jeering to win 17-14, 15-12 against home "bad boy" Ong Ewe Hock.
Danish second doubles Jens Eriksen and Jesper Larsen came out the heroes for their country as they finally overcame 1996 Olympics silver medalists Cheah Soon Kit and Yap Kim Hock 15-8, 8-15, 15-5.
Indonesia bt China 4-1: Hendrawan bt Ji Xinpeng 15-7 15-12, Candra Wijaya/Tony Gunawan bt Yu Jinhao/Chen Qiqiu 15-10 15-11, Taufik Hidayat bt Lou Yigang 15-10 6-15 15-10, Ricky Subagja/Rexy Mainaky lost to Zhang Wei/Zhang Jun 8-15 6-15, Marlev Mainaky bt Chen Hong 15-12 15-3
England bt Sweden 4-1: Colin Haughton lost to Thomas Johansson 13-15 11-15, Darren Hall bt Rasmus Wengberg 14-17 15-12 15-12, Nathan Robertson/Simon Archer bt Par-Gunnar Jonsson/Peter Axelsson 15-9 15-6, Mark Constable bt Martin Hagberg 15-9 15-12, Anthony Clark/Ian Sullivan bt Rasmus Wengberg/Frederik Bergstrom 15-8 15-7
Denmark bt Malaysia 4-1: Peter Gade Christensen bt Wong Choong Hann 15-7 15-6, Martin Lundgaard Hansen/Lars Paaske lost to Lee Wan Wah/Choong Tan Fook 12-15 10-15, Poul-Erik Hoyer-Larsen bt Ong Ewe Hock 17-14 15-12, Jens Eriksen/Jesper Larsen bt Cheah Soon Kit/Yap Kim Hock 15-8 8-15 15-5, Kenneth Jonassen bt Yong Hock Kin 15-6 14-17 15-1
South Korea bt India 4-1: Shon Seung-mo lost to Pulella Gopichand 7-15 7-15, Lee Dong-soo/Yoo Yong-sung bt Markose Bristow/Jaseel Ismail 15-0 15-8, Lee Hyun-il bt Nikhil Kanetkar 15-12 15-5, Ahn Jae-chang/Kim Dong-moon bt Anand Chetan/Sachin Ratti 15-2 15-8, Park Tae-sang bt Sidharth Jain 15-12 15-11