Nineteen years of waiting is over – today Indonesia have won back the Thomas Cup.
This team just got better and better as the competition progressed and to beat China 3-0 in the final was a measure of how far they improved together. This band of brothers will always be renowned as the athletes who won the trophy for Indonesia’s 14th time with the legendary Hendra Setiawan as their captain.
Who could have predicted what this team was capable of? It was packed with talent but some of the athletes had been misfiring in recent games and others were looking lackluster. The first tie was a 5-0 leg-stretcher against Algeria but next came Thailand. This match was equal at 2-2 with both senior MS losing, so it required Rhustavito to step up at the end to keep his team winning. The contest with Taiwan was also finely balanced: this time Ginting and Christie won, only for the MD to lose. Again they had to look to Rhustavito to rescue the result. This victory was crucial to confirm seeding into the knockout stages.
The ‘El Classico’ against Malaysia in the quarter final was a tie I was regarding with a mixture of dread and excitement. It was lose-able. But this is when the team really started to look like they were contenders. LEE Zii Jia is in the form of his life but he was dispatched by Anthony in straight sets; the Minions overcame CHIA/SOH over three and the tie was wrapped up by Christie. No need for any five match dramas.
A semi-final against Denmark on their home turf is always going to be a daunting prospect; especially when the first encounter is against Olympic Champion Viktor Axelsen. It was playing out true to form until the third match when Jonatan Christie walked on court to battle Anders Antonsen. What followed was a truly great performance from a man who has struggled with his form for a while. Over 100 minutes he stayed cool, kept to his plan and exposed Antonsen’s bland attack and his lack of stamina. This blow to Danish ambitions was mortal, and Alfian/Ardianto executed the coup de grace for a 3-1 win.
One of the exceptional features of this team is that there was always a win around the corner from a loss. Their self-belief escalated as the days passed. They knew that history was waiting to be made and when the chances came against China they grabbed them. A 3-0 victory is really something. The last words belong to one of my favourite players ever. Hendra Setiawan is an absolute icon and a wonderful ambassador for badminton; I’m thrilled that it was him who raised the trophy on the podium
“I cannot express this feeling. I am just happy”Hendra Setiawan talking to BWF
If you enjoyed this then take a look at my recent article about Jonatan Christie https://womensbadminton.co.uk/2021/10/16/thomas-cup-semi-final-mvp-jonatan-christie/
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