KUALA LUMPUR, May 23 (BadmintonPlanet.com) — Indonesia almost scared China in their second meeting in three days but the defending champions still made the semifinals of the Sudirman Cup here on Thursday.
Tontowi Ahmad/Liliyana Natsir took a good start for Indonesia as they stunned Olympic runners-up Xu Chen/Ma Jin in mixed doubles at 21-18, 14-21 and 21-16. But Chen Long quickly leveled the score for China after he thrashed Tommy Sugiarto 21-11, 21-15 in men’s singles. Suairto is the only Indonesian player who stayed in the lineup as in Tuesday’s group match against China.
"I didn’t think too much about the pressure from the mixed doubles," said Chen. "I played a tough match today and it’s good that I won."
Indonesia then took lead again as Rian Agung Saputro/Angga Pratama surprisingly defeated China’s Olympic champions Cai Yun/Fu Haifeng in men’s doubles at 19-21, 21-18 and 21-15. Umpires’ controversial calls led the Indonesia pair to win the second game. Cai and Fu found themselves short of stamina and could only let their younger opponents taking the victory.
China leveled the score again as Li Xuerui found no trouble in beating Lindaweni Fanetri 21-16, 21-13 in women’s singles and forcing the match to be decided by women’s doubles.
It took Yu Yang/Wang Xiaoli only 37 minutes to defeat Liliyana Natsir/Nitya Krishinda Maheswari and secured China a berth in semifinals, which they had never missed since the very first edition in 1989.
"Everything happened as expected," said Li Yongbo, head coach of the Chinese team. "Both teams have played each other many times. We knew each other very well and I knew that they didn’t send their best players in the group match."
"The Chinese team haven’t played such a tough match for quite a long time, especially after we lost the mixed doubles. It brought pressure to our players," said Li.
"But I won’t take it very seriously. I mean even losing the match is nothing big. We have won eight Sudirman Cup titles," the coach added.