PETALING JAYA: Indonesian star Hendra Setiawan has won almost everything badminton has to offer – except the Thomas Cup.
Since breaking onto the scene with former partner Markis Kido, the 29-year-old Hendra has won the Asia Badminton Championships in 2005, Asian Games gold medal (2010), Olympic gold medal (2008), and two world titles – with Markis (2007) and Mohd Ahsan this year.
Now, fresh off his first Super Series Finals title with Ahsan, the cheerful Hendra has warned that Indonesia are ready to take home the premier team event title for the first time since 2002.
“We have many big tournaments next year, namely the Malaysian Open, All England and the World Championships. But our main goal is definitely the Thomas Cup,” said Hendra.
“I believe Indonesia have a very firm chance at winning the Cup. In fact, I want to win it because I’ve never won it despite playing in three editions (2006-2010).
“My partnership with Ahsan is also getting better since we paired up at the start of the year.
“Our performance dropped a little in the middle of the year but the big one was winning the world title with him.
“However, Ahsan had a shoulder injury after the Japan Open in September and we struggled a bit again. So, it was really nice to close off the year by winning our first Super Series Finals title.
“We have also learned from our defeats to South Korea’s Yoo Yeon-seong-Lee Yong-dae in the Denmark and French Opens and we will be better prepared for them next time.”
Indonesia head coach Rexy Mainaky also said that the Koreans will not stand a chance the next time they come up against Hendra-Ahsan.
But while things are looking up for Indonesia, there is still more work to be done for Malaysia, especially in the doubles department.
Although Hoon Thien How-Tan Wee Kiong gave a crowd-pleasing performance en route to bowing out in the group stages, the world No. 8 still have a lot to work do.
The main area that needs improving is, without a doubt, Thien How’s weight.
Thien How, who turns 27 on Dec 24, is an exceptional player at the back court with his powerful smashes but his weight has limited his ability to cover the court.
It was obvious that the younger Wee Kiong was out of position on numerous occasions as he tried to cover for Thien How. That has to change if the pair aim to improve on their current No. 8 in the world rankings.
Otherwise, next year will all be about Lee Chong Wei again.