Mon, 10 Apr 2000

Shuttlers Candra and Tony save RI's face once more

JAKARTA (JP): Indonesia's most respected men's doubles duo, Candra Wijaya and Tony Gunawan, saved their country's face in international tournaments one more time by winning the US$180,000 Yonex Japan Open.

The final took place at the Yoyogi National Gymnasium in Tokyo on Sunday.

Despite three final spots in the tournament, men's singles player Hendrawan failed to fulfill his ambition to collect another title after nearly a two-year drought since his last victory in the 1998 Singapore Open.

Meanwhile, mixed doubles players Tri Kusheryanto and Minarti Timur once again stumbled to block the domination of the world number one pairing of Liu Yong and Ge Fei of China.

The results in both events enabled China to reap four titles here.

Candra and Tony, who reached the All England semifinals last month, crushed Lee Dong-soo and Yoo Yong-sung of South Korea 15- 6, 15-7.

The Indonesians bagged $12,960, while the Koreans, runners up here last year, earned half that amount.

"After losing in the All England, we really faced a mounting challenge in grabbing this tournament's title. It's really important for us," Candra told The Jakarta Post in a telephone interview.

"We played really well today as we were consistent in our offenses and defenses. We played fast and powerful in long rallies. Our hard work has paid off," said Candra, who reached last year's semifinals, losing to Kim Dong-moon and Ha Tae-kwon of South Korea.

Hendrawan earned an easy victory in the first game, 15-6, before finally bowing out to Ji Xinpeng of China 15-17, 4-15 in the second and third games respectively in the 75-minute match.

"I was narrowly leading 14-13 in the second game but I failed to take advantage of critical points which allowed him to win. In the third game I lost all my energy and concentration and let him win easily," he told the Post.

"I didn't have enough time to prepare myself after competing in the All England and Swiss Open last month. I'm not disappointed with the result although I was only one step away from being a champion. I have yet to regain my physical fitness, especially after suffering from hepatitis prior to both events," said Hendrawan, who picked up $7,200, half of Ji's prize money.

Hendrawan was optimistic about qualifying for the Olympic Games in Sydney in September.

In the mixed doubles, Tri and Minarti failed to overcome Liu and Ge to lose 5-15, 14-17. The Indonesians pocketed $5,490, half of the Chinese prize.

AFP reported that in the all-Chinese women's singles final, last year's runner-up, Gong Zhichao, breezed past defending champion Ye Zhaoying 11-7, 11-3 in a rematch of the finals of the past two years here.

Gong, whose first win over Ye came in the 1998 final here, collected the $12,420 first prize from her second title of the season, following her biggest career victory at the All England last month.

In another all-Chinese women's doubles final, Huang Nanyan and Yang Wei upset seasoned players Ge Fei and Gun Jun 13-15, 15-4, 15-11. The winners received $10,980 in prize money. (yan)