Indonesia Masters 2019 takeaways: No coach, no problem for Anders Antonsen; Jakarta proves lucky for Saina Nehwal again

Not only did Indonesia Masters provide high-octane, world-class badminton, but there was also the mind-boggling support from the ebullient fanatics at the Istora Gelora Bung Karno stadium. There were a few results that raised eyebrows, lesser-known shuttlers breaking onto the scene and a 'peaceful' swansong on offer in what was an enthralling week.

Here are some of the takeaways from the Indonesia Masters 2019.

Coachless Antonsen goes big 

No coach, no problem for Antonsen. The lanky Dane battled all odds in Jakarta to land the first major title of his career.

Antonsen, who was not accompanied by his coach, reached the final of the championship for the first time and managed to upset Momota 21-16, 14-21 and 21-16 in a game that lasted one hour and 19 minutes.

The 21-year-old avenged his loss in last week's Malaysia Open in the opening round before thrashing home favourite Shesar Hiren Rhustavito in straight games. Lee Zii Jia, tipped as the next Lee Chong Wei, was no match to Antonsen's fast-paced gameplay.

Then came Christie, the home favourite who won the Asian Games gold medal inside the same noisy couldron just a few months ago. All that was brushed aside when Antonsen found angles to hit winners at regular intervals.

In the final, he just didn't stop buffetting the shuttle. By no means Antonsen is a pushover. He had a giant task of handling the best shuttler in the world – Momota. But even he had no answers in the first and third games as Antonsen's racquet jangled throughout.

A 21-16, 14-21, 21-16 win was followed by a wild celebration as the young Dane ran around the arena and threw his shirt towards the boisterous crowd. Just like how Lee Yong Dae did it, or even Christie celebrated after winning gold.

That's what you get when you become the first ever European player to win the Indonesia Masters.

Liliyana Natsir bids farewell

So what if Chinese pair Zheng Siwei and Huang Yaqiong came out victorious in the final? It was the best possible reception for Indonesian shuttler Liliyana Natsir as she hung her boots on home soil.

She couldn't stop smiling or even waving to her fans. "Today I declared my resignation from professional badminton. I could not be a badminton athlete without their support. Badminton has raised up my name," the 33-year-old said with tears in the badminton arena of Istora Senayan. Several deep breaths calmed her down.

Together with her partner Tontowi Ahmad, Lilyana has collected many titles from various international tournaments that include World Championships, World Cup, Asian Championships and Southeast Asia Championships.

Throughout her career with Tontowi, Butet, as she usually called, treasured All England Badminton Championships and 2016 Olympics the most. “I can retire in peace,” she remarked.

Turn up the music: The Istora carnival

It's a routine followed religiously in badminton-crazy Jakarta. Over the years, the courts in the Istora Senayan are set alight by the fans, who rock the stadium every single day during tournaments.

It's louder than any heavy metal concert you've been. After all, Istora Gelora Bung Karno to badminton is what Eden Gardens is to cricket. Every non-Indonesian played as if they were playing against the crowd. And this year's Indonesia Masters was no different.

During Kento Momota's match against Hans-Kristian Vittinghus, a deafening roar erupted not once, not twice but on multiple occasions as local boy Jonatan Christie blitzed past higher-ranked Shi Yuqi on the adjacent court. The loud chanting and clapping took Momota by surprise, to an extent where he nearly struggled to play a simple stroke. "At the end of the second game, I was distracted by the match between Christie and Shi Yuqi. Because the stadium is very noisy, the audience was cheering for Christie. My opponent continued to chase points while I had lost concentration," he said.

Istora will leave many mind-blown yet again.

Jakarta proves lucky for Saina

It was not long ago when Saina Nehwal won the Asian Games bronze at the Istora Senayan. It's the same place where she won three Indonesia Open titles. That's one of the reasons why she loves gracing the court in Indonesia. The Indonesians do have a soft corner for the Indians and in particular Nehwal.

It was rather unfortunate how the Indian ace clinched her fourth title in Jakarta. Her opponent, Carolina Marin went all guns blazing until she landed awkwardly on her right knee. She survived a scare in the first round against Dinar Dyah Ayustine but cruised past Fitraini Fitraini later. Chochuwong was a cakewalk, yet again. Her first real test came in the semi-finals against He Bingjiao who stretched the Indian ace only to lose in three entertaining games.

Knee problems have been haunting shuttlers for a long time now. Wang Xin limped off the court in pain during the 2012 London Olympics, which earned Nehwal an Olympic bronze medal. Li Xuerui is struggling to make a comeback after tearing her lateral meniscus at Rio 2016. Nehwal herself was troubled by a bad knee during the Olympics, for which she needed surgery.

Despite the manner of her victory, the silverware is a testament to her recent form. She has looked sharper than ever, thanks to ally-turned-coach Parupalli Kashyap, and has ruffled feathers against the top guns.

Minions at the double

Two tournaments. Two gold medals.

Kevin Sanjaya and Marcus Gideon make winning look so easy. The two warriors combined perfectly to beat compatriots Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan 21-17, 21-11. With that win, they successfully defended their title as the duo looks to repeat last year's success where they won nine Superseries titles.

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Updated Date: Jan 28, 2019 18:29:19 IST

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