Photo credit: Badmintonthaitoday.com
As we and many other medias have already reported the end is near for Indonesian legend Liliyana Natsir. The recent Fuzhou China Open was supposed to be her last tournament. Now she decided to finish her career on home soil.
Liliyana Natsir and Tontowi Ahmad signed up for the Daihatsu Indonesia Masters, a Super 500 level tournament, which is played in Jakarta towards the end of January 2019. The tournament will be played in the historic Istora Senayan arena and what other place is more logical to end the career for the legendary Indonesian?!
While Natsir has already decided to retire from the badminton circus, partner Ahmad will continue his career with other partners. He was supposed to play the Gwangju Korea Masters with Della Destiara Haris this week but an injury for Haris forced the pair to withdraw.
Not as expected
Playing the Masters wasn’t expected though. Natsir told the Indonesian badminton association that she “didn’t think she would play the Indonesia Masters as the last tournament, but after discussions with the coach and the association, it was finally decided that she would play with Tontowi at Istora for one last time.”
And here we were all walking around thinking that we had seen the last to Liliyana Natsir but now the badminton world gets one more chance to see her in action. The Daihatsu Indonesia Masters 2019 will definitely be an unforgettable moment for her and Tontowi Ahmad. It will be the end of their career as a couple, and the very final stop for Liliyana. The Indonesian badminton fans will surely do everything in their power to not miss out on this special moment. Tickets may very well be sold out very fast.
Welcome back to another legend!
While the Daihatsu Indonesia Master 2019 will be a “goodbye” to Natsir, the tournament will be a happy “welcome back” to another legend; Korean Lee Yong Dae will play in Indonesia for the first time after his comeback to the badminton scene. The Korean has enjoyed several good moments in Indonesia in the past pairing up with Yoo Yeon Seong and Chung Jae Sung. Despite being a foreigner, Lee has a massive fan base in Indonesia.
Photo credit: Barcelona Spain Masters
The Daihatsu Indonesia Masters is already now expected to be a strong tournament, and especially China is going into the new year with a 100% focus. Reason is that the qualification for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics is just around the corner and everybody wants to position themselves as favorable as possible before the actual qualification period begins in May 2019.
For this reason China has registered a record high number of players for the Daihatsu Indonesia Masters. They are sending 44 players, the highest number registered by China for any tournament ever. Based on data from the registry they send six men’s single players, eight women’s single players, six men’s double pairs, eight women’s double pairs, and seven mixed double pairs. How many titles do you think China will get?
Liliyana Natsir and Tontowi Ahmad lost the final of the Daihatsu Indonesia Masters 2018 to… yes, to a pair from China (Zheng Siwei and Huang Yaqiong).