By VIKNESWARAN RAMAN
AARHUS: Indonesia finally ended an almost two-decade wait to lift the prestigious Thomas Cup after beating defending champions China 3-0 in the finals at the Ceres Arena, today.
Despite being the most successful team in the tournament’s history with 13 titles, the last time Indonesia won the trophy was in the 2002 edition in Guangzhou, China, when they beat Malaysia 3-2.
World number five Anthony Sinisuka Ginting set the pace by clinching the first point for Indonesia, bouncing back from a set down to defeat world number 27, Lu Guang Zu, 18-21, 21-14, 21-16 after a hard-fought battle that took well over an hour.
“In the first set, I was a little nervous and Guang Zu was more aggressive. But I managed to get out of the pressure in the second and third sets, became calmer and managed to turn things around. I have played against him (Guang Zu) twice before, but this was the most difficult one.
I was preparing to play both Shi Yu Qi and Guang Zu last night, because we didn’t know if Yu Qi would play today (following an injury). I really thank God for being able to get out of pressure and play well today,” he said after the match.
In a surprising move, Indonesia fielded their third doubles Fajar Alfian-Muhammad Rian Ardianto, despite having the likes of world number one pair Marcus Fernaldi Gideon-Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo and world number two Hendra Setiawan-Mohammad Ahsan.
However, the world number seven pair was able to rise to the occasion to beat He Ji Ting-Zhou Hao Dong in straight sets of 21-12, 21-19 to double the lead in front of over 2,000 spectators.
Indonesia confirmed the 3-0 victory against China – the second most successful team in the biennial tournament with 10 titles – when world number seven Jonatan Christie clinched a 21-14, 18-21, 21-14 win against world number 65, Li Shi Feng.
Although he did not play in the finals, it was a memorable moment for sensational Indonesian skipper Hendra to lift the trophy after seven failed attempts.
The 37-year-old has had an illustrious career winning numerous accolades, including the 2008 Beijing Olympic gold medal, four World Championships (2007, 2013, 2015 and 2019), two Asian Games gold (2010 and 2014) and two All England titles (2014 and 2019).
Indonesia cruised into the finals after ousting Malaysia 3-0 in the quarter-finals and hosts Denmark 3-1 in the semi-finals, while China beat Thailand 3-0 in the quarter-finals and last year’s runners-up Japan 3-1 in the semis.
Meanwhile, Jonatan who emerged hero by clinching the final point to give Indonesia the win, credited his teammates for the success, besides thanking all Indonesians for their support.
“It is definitely very amazing because the last time we lifted this trophy was in 2002, and that was very, very long ago. At that time, our (former) singles player Taufik Hidayat was still playing. I feel it is high time for us to bring the Thomas Cup back home,” he said.