Jakarta. Indonesia won two titles at the 2016 China Open Super Series Premier with Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir topping the mixed doubles category, and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo and Marcus Fernaldi Gideon taking the men's doubles title, in the tournament's final round in Fuzhou on Sunday (20/11).
Tontowi and Liliyana took down Chinese pair Zhang Nan and Li Yinhui in the final with rubber sets 21-13, 22-24 and 21-16.
The Rio Olympics gold medalists won with ease in the first game but had to battle a tough challenge by the experienced Chinese duo in the second. Despite reaching 19-20 in the second set, Tontowi finally lost the second game after deuces.
The third set was arguably owned by Liliyana and Tontowi as they went 6-0 in the early minutes. The pair then scored a confident 16-10 and finally secured the game against the hosts by 21-16.
"Zhang Nan is very experienced but we were more confident and played with patience," Liliyana told Badmintonindonesia.org.
Young Guns Beat Vintage Danish Pair
Men's doubles pair Kevin and Marcus, who turn 21 and 25 years of age, respectively, this year, won the title in their class after defeating experienced Danish pair Mathias Boe and Carsten Mogensen, who were fourth-seeded in the tournament.
Boe and Mogensen, who are 36 and 33 years old, respectively, beat their younger contenders at the Malaysia Open last year, yet this time the Danish pair had to see Indonesia's young guns come back to win 21-18 and 22-20.
Despite their straight win, Kevin and Marcus faced a tough challenge by the Danes, recording tight scores in both sets.
The Indonesians had a 11-7 lead in the first game, but were left behind 11-14, before finally coming back with 21-18.
In the second set, the young guns even had to face a deuce after the score went to 20-20. Fortunately, Marcus's two powerful smashes in the last stage of the match forced the Danes to give up points, allowing the Indonesians to triumph.
"The key [to winning the game] was just to keep trying. We were frequently close to losing the game, but we always tried," Marcus said after the game.
"This is my first experience in the Premier series, so I was anxious and it turned out that I can win," Kevin said.
This year's China Open was unique, as there no Chinese shuttlers won any titles in the tournament.