Photo credit: Tang Shi
If you know how crazy Indonesia is about badminton you will not have any problems imagining how the local atmosphere was in Jakarta as the host nation at the Asian Games had two men’s singles in the quarterfinals today. Try and guess how the atmosphere would be if they won…
Let’s go straight to the point. Jonatan Christie who eliminated Shi Yuqi, silver medalist from the World Championships, on Friday and Khosit Phetpradab from Thailand yesterday, continued his ride to the medal matches in his quarterfinal today. Up against Wong Wing Ki Vincent from Hong Kong, Christie could secure Indonesia’s first Asian Games medal in men’s single since legend Taufik Hidayat won the gold in 2006.
Jonatan Christie started off as a rocket in first game where he didn’t leave Wong many opportunities to develop his game. The Indonesian quickly gained a comfortable lead and it seemed the Hongkonger let go of first game because it was too difficult to catch up. First game was 21-11 for the local hero.
Wong did come out stronger in second game as expected and turned 9-11 into a 15-14 lead. But Jonatan Christie kept on with his strategy; full speed forward, lots of jump smashes, attack attack attack! And this strategy showed very successful as his pressure stopped Wong’s resistance. From level at 18-18 Christie closed the match with even more attacks. 21-18; semifinal, and here we go!
After the match Jonatan Christie explained to PBSI, the Indonesian badminton federation, that he didn’t expect to win in straight games. He was ready for a third game but this obviously turned out not to be relevant.
One down, more to come!
The match following Jonatan Christie’s was just as interesting for the many thousand local spectators at the Istora Senayan arena; another men’s single with an Indonesian on one side of the net. Anthony Sinisuka Ginting against Chen Long. Tough mission for Ginting, but not impossible. He had already eliminated Kento Momota so why not?!
Things didn’t start too well for Anthony Ginting. Chen Long was in control and was leading 11-6 at interval. Ginting’s enthusiasm didn’t suffer anything though. He kept on putting pressure on the Chinese and little by little he slowly closed the gap. From 18-18 Ginting played even more aggressively and Chen Long didn’t survive that. First game was secured; 21-19 for the Indonesian.
In second game Chen Long didn’t feel comfortable at all. He made far too many errors, couldn’t control the wind and placed many shots too far behind the court. Second game was basically not very interesting as it was obvious who would win it. You could only sit and speculate if Chen Long would actually manage to make a great comeback. But he didn’t. Ginting secured Indonesia’s second spot in the men’s single semifinals after 21-11 in a match of 50 minutes.
The Indonesian was understandable very happy after the match. He started the match today with the same strategy as he did yesterday against Momota and explained in interviews after the match that he didn’t need any specific strategy in second game; here Chen Long made far too many mistakes for it to be necessary.
The Chinese Olympic Champions was man enough to go out and praise Ginting after his loss. Chen Long wrote on his Instagram that “this obviously wasn’t the result he was looking for” but that “Ginting was worthy of the win”.
History is made
Last time Indonesia won a medal in men’s single at the Asian Games was in Doha, Qatar, in 2006 where Taufik Hidayat won against Lin Dan in the final. Indonesia has had many big players in men’s single in the past – Liem Swie King, Icuk Sugiarto, Alan Budikusuma, Hariyanto Arbi, Ardy Wiranata… and the list goes on… but the proud badminton nation had to wait 12 years before they got medals in this category again. And then they don’t only take one but two.
History is made and it’s a very satisfied host nation today. And they are even also sure to get medals in women’s double with Greysia Polii and Apriyani Rahayu and mixed double with Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir who all qualified for the semifinals yesterday. And as these lines are being written, Indonesian Fajar Alfian and Muhammad Rian Ardianto just secured themselves a spot in the men’s double semifinal as well. They won in straight games over Malaysian duo Ong Yew Sin and Teo Ee Yi.
MS: Jonatan Christie, Indonesia vs. Wong Wing Ki Vincent, Hong Kong 21-11 21-18
MS: Anthony Sinisuka Ginting, Indonesia vs. Chen Long, China 21-19 21-11
MD: Fajar Alfian/Muhammad Rian Ardianto vs. Ong Yew Sin/Teo Ee Yi, Malaysia 21-17 21-13