Indonesia Open 2016

Today BCA Indonesia Open 2016 (BIO 2016), the world’s most prestigious badminton tournament, has just ended. The titles are spread equally between Japan, China, Malaysia, Korea, and Taiwan. I got a chance to attend the venue on the last 2 days of the tournament, which are yesterday and today. Now, I’ll let you know my story about this experience :)

Prologue

For those who knew me, you must’ve known that I’m a badminton fan (and I’m sure some of you are tired of reading the badminton feeds along my Facebook timeline). Indonesia Open has been a very popular tournament between badminton elites. The prize money for the winners are the highest among other Super Series and Super Series Premier tournaments. What’s more appealing for the athletes, though, is the craziness of the Indonesian crowd. A special atmosphere, which they couldn’t find in other badminton venues around the world, always welcomes the players every time they play in Istora Gelora Bung Karno in Senayan, Jakarta. And this year, it’s no different.

At first, I intended to try registering to be a volunteer for this year’s IO. But unfortunately, the deadline had passed and there’s nothing I could do. Then I bought the ticket for the last 2 days, which are the semifinal and final day, while hoping that there would be Indonesian athletes reaching these stages. I bought these tickets in early May.

First Days of the Tournament

Fast forward to Monday, 30 June 2016, the first day of BIO 2016. The matches on the first day are the qualification round and the main round started on Tuesday. There were a few surprises during the first two days, the most noticeable are the elimination of some seeded players: Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon (2nd seed in WS), Denmark’s Christinna Pedersen/Kamilla Rytter Juhl (5th seed in WD), and home fans’ favorite Tommy Sugiarto (8th seed in MS) and Praveen Jordan/Debby Susanto (8th seed in XD). Korea’s Kim Gi Jung/Kim Sa Rang (4th seed in MD), China’s Chen Long (1st seed in MS) and Luo Ying/Luo Yu (7th seed in WD) also withdrew from the tournament due to injuries. BWF (Badminton World Federation) has a rule that the top 10 players in each number have to participate in the Super Series Premiere tournament. Rumor said that the withdrawal and the elimination of these seeded players are due to their preparations for the Olympic games in Rio, which will begin in August.

The biggest disappointment for the home fans, though, was the fourth day of the tournament. Indonesia’s three best pairs were eliminated in the second round by unseeded players. Mohammad Ahsan/Hendra Setiawan in the Men’s Double, Nitya Krishinda Maheswari/Greysia Polii in the Women’s Double, and Tontowi Ahmad/Liliyana Natsir in the Mixed Double. All of them are second seeded in their respective numbers and the nation has a high expectation for them. The result on the fourth day left 5 Indonesian representatives in the quarterfinals, where most of them are young and inexperienced players.

From 5, it was down to 1 after the matches on Friday. Only Ihsan Maulana Mustofa survived the quarterfinals in the Men’s Singles after defeating England’s Ouseph Rajiv. Nevertheless, the other Indonesians showed spirited fights against more experienced players. A nice consolation after what had been a very frustrating Thursday.

Attending the Istora

Saturday was the semifinals. The matches started at 1 pm and Ihsan was scheduled to play in the fifth match on the TV court. I arrived at Istora around 4 pm and still managed to watch the third match of the day between Korea’s Lee Yong Dae/Yoo Yeon Song vs Denmark’s Kim Astrup/Anders Skaarup Rasmussen in MD and Korea’s Ko Sung Hyun/Kim Ha Na vs China’s Zhang Nan/Zhao Yunlei in XD. The first time I entered the venue, I was truly amazed by the amount of people watching badminton and the noise they created. If Italy or England has the craziest football fans, then Indonesia has to be their counterpart in badminton.

The spectators inside Istora Gelora Bung Karno hall, the venue of Indonesia Open 2016.

When it was the time for Ihsan to play, the crowd were even more amazing. The chant ‘Indonesia!’ followed by the harmonized sound of clapping balloons really gave me shivers. All the fans in Istora were united to support Ihsan Maulana Mustofa, who was playing against the world’s number 2 Lee Chong Wei from Malaysia. The first game went all the way to LCW 21–9. In the second game Ihsan played much better and gave LCW a hard time, but in the end he lost 21–18. Indonesia lost their last and only hope to reach the final, but he lost honorably. LCW in the press conference after the match even expressed his worry about Indonesia’s young men’s single athletes: Ihsan Maulana Mustofa, Jonatan Christie, and Anthony Sinisuka Ginting. He predicted that these three players would be in the top 10 in a few years. Let’s hope that this will come true :)

After Ihsan’s match finished, almost half of the spectators left the venue. I stayed to watch the game and after the seventh match, I went home.

Today is the last and final day of the tournament. I managed to take some pictures and I’ll show you some here :)

Outside the venue of the tournament with the must-have clapping balloons.

I have to admit that the organizers of BIO 2016 have done a really good job. They were successful in creating a very ‘badminton’ atmosphere, which we could feel the time we took our first step in the venue complex. The decorations and stands around the venue were also appealing and provide supporters and visitors with plenty of entertainment during the week.

Human-sized badminton racket and shuttlecock.

The match started at 12 pm and with the help of the amazingly free-of-traffic Jakarta today, I arrived just in time to take some photos and eat before entering the hall.

The first match was the Women’s Double’s final between Japan’s Misaki Matsutomo/Ayaka Takahashi (1st seed) and China’s Tang Yuanting/Yu Yang (3rd seed).

The match finished in favor of the first seed 21–15 8–21 21–15.

Misaki Matsutomo/Ayaka Takahashi and Tang Yuanting/Yu Yang on the women’s double podium.

The winning pair received US$ 71,100 (around 950 million IDR) and the runner ups US$ 34,200 (around 450 million IDR).

The second match is the Mixed Double’s final between Korea’s Ko Sung Hyun/Kim Ha Na (3rd seed) and China’s Xu Chen/Ma Jin (5th seed).

Kim Ha Na
Kim Ha Na

Kim Ha Na was my favorite player but unfortunately, she and Ko Sung Hyun lost the match in three games, 15–21 21–16 13–21 :(

With this result, Xu Chen and Ma Jin managed to retain their Indonesia Open title.

Xu Chen/Ma Jin and Ko Sung Hyun/Kim Ha Na on the mixed doubles podium.

Both pairs received the same amount of prize as the women’s double’s champions did: US$ 71,100 and US$ 34,200.

The third match is the Men’s Single’s final between Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei (2nd seed) and Denmark’s Jan O Jorgensen (5th seed). This match is the (second) most interesting for me (after Kim Ha Na’s), as both players demonstrated their technical abilities with the excellent stokes, strong drives, narrow net plays, and acrobatic returns.

Jan O Jorgensen took the first game 21–17, but LCW managed to force the deciding game and finally won 17–21 21–19 21–17.

Here is a video of LCW’s winning moment. These two players even exchanged their jerseys as a sign of appreciation to each other’s great effort :)

Lee Chong Wei saluting the home crowd after winning his sixth Indonesia Open title.

With this victory, Lee Chong Wei equals Indonesia’s Ardy Wiranata and Taufik Hidayat record of winning the Indonesia Open title six times. He also becomes the first non-Indonesian player to achieve such a feat.

Lee Chong Wei and Jan O Jorgensen on the men’s single’s podium.

Lee Chong Wei received US$ 67,500 (around 900 million IDR) and Jorgensen US$ 34,200 (around 450 million IDR).

That was the last match that I watch as it was quite exhausting seeing 5 hours of non-stop live badminton :p

Other Results

Korea’s Lee Yong Dae/Yoo Yeon Song (1st seed) took the Men’s Double’s title after defeating China’s Chai Biao/Hong Wei (5th seed) in three games 13–21 21–13 21–16. Taiwan’s Tai Tzu Ying was the only non-seeded finalist and also the only one who won the match in two sets, overcoming China’s Wang Yihan’s (4th seed) fight 21–17 21–8 in 34 minutes.

Conclusion

That concludes this year’s Indonesia Open, a successful celebration of badminton, but a failure for Indonesia in terms of the results. I had a great experience watching the matches with such energetic crowd and I really would like to be a volunteer next year, as the job desc would be interviewing and escorting the players (I hope to be assigned to Kim Ha Na, of course! :p). Now the players will start to prepare for the Australia Open Super Series, which will start next Tuesday, and the Summer Olympic games. Let’s hope that Indonesian players would be able to perform much better in these two tournaments :)

I hope you guys had a nice weekend and happy fasting for those who practice it. Ciao!

pictures: took it myself

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