When the Korea Open Super Series begins today in Seoul, the number of former Indonesians will nearly match those who still play for Indonesia.
With national team shuttlers sitting out the $300,000 season opener, Indonesia only has three players representing it — Hendra Aprida Gunawan, Alvent Yulianto Chandra and Flandy Limpele.
The Indonesian Badminton Association kept its shuttlers out of the Korea Open, citing a lack of preparation time after the Southeast Asian Games in December. The extra training was part of the association’s plan to stop Indonesia’s decline after a year in which it won just five Super Series titles.
Its decision to hold off until the Malaysia Open left the burden of reviving the country’s fortunes on the shoulders of professional shuttlers such as Hendra and Alvent.
“Now we have a better chance to win, and we’ll play our best to take the title,” Hendra said. “I always feel unsettled when playing against other Indonesian shuttlers, so no other Indonesians will be good for me.”
Hendra and Alvent, fifth in the world but seeded third, were drawn against Japan’s Kenta Kazuno and Kenichi Hayakawa in the first round. While their quarter of the draw is relatively straightforward, a tricky match against No. 2 seeds Mathias Boe and Carsten Mogensen of Denmark or fifth-seeded Cai Yun and Fu Haifeng of China waits in the semifinals.
In addition to worrying about on-court matters, Hendra said he and his playing partner must also concern themselves with financial matters. Winning will help them keep their sponsors, which include apparel company Yonex.
“Sponsors will evaluate our performances after the contract ends later this year. That makes every tournament, every game, important for us,” said Hendra, who left the Indonesian national team camp in early 2009.
Flandy Limpele opens mixed doubles play with Taiwanese partner Cheng Wen Hsing against Japan’s Kenta Kazuno and Reika Kakiiwa.
Also in the mixed doubles draw is Indonesia-born Weny Rahmawati, who represents France. Weny and partner Sylvain Grosjean were promoted from qualifying and will take on Korea’s Yoo Yeon Seong and Park Sun Young in the first round.
Weny and Laura Choinet, seeded eighth in women’s doubles, have a first-round bye before playing Taiwan’s Chien Yu Chin and Wang Pei Rong or Jung Kyung Eun and Yoo Hyun Young of Korea.
Tony Gunawan, who plays for the United States, was seeded seventh in men’s doubles with partner Howard Bach.