Simon Santoso celebrates after beating India's Sourabh Verma of India in the Malaysian Open GP Gold final. - ABDUL RAHMAN EMBONG / The Star
PASIR GUDANG: Simon Santoso made a strong claim to earn a spot in the Indonesian Thomas Cup Finals squad by winning the men’s singles title in the Malaysian Open Grand Prix Gold at the Pasir Gudang Municipal Stadium.
The 28-year-old Simon, who left the national team to become a professional player in January, battled for one hour and nine minutes to fend off a fired-up Sourabh Varma of India 15-21, 21-16, 21-19 in the final.
“I came with a target of winning a title here and I’ve done it. It will be awesome if this title gets me a place in my country’s in the Thomas Cup Finals squad,” said a calm and composed Simon, after ending 22-year-old Sourabh’s hopes of winning his first career title.
World No. 56 Simon is currently ranked sixth in his country and, if selected, will be a dangerous third player for Indonesia in the prestigious team event in New Delhi from May 18-25.
The other players ahead of him in the world rankings are Tommy Sugiarto (No. 3), Sony Dwi Kuncoro (No. 15), Dionysius Hayom Rumbaka (No. 19), Andre Kurniawan Tedjono (No. 51) and Alamsyah Yunus (No. 52).
Simon also hopes that the Malaysian Open GP win will mark a turning point in his badminton career. He did not win a single major title in his 10 years with the national team.
“There is no time for celebration as I have a lot of catching up to do with the rest of the field and improve on my world ranking. I will compete in the Singapore Open Superseries next. I’m fitter and I want to put up another good showing,” said Simon, who attributed his inconsistent performances in the past to a nagging back problem.
China, meanwhile, enjoyed a great day after winning three titles through Yao Xue (women’s singles), Yu Xiaohan-Huang Yaqiong (women’s doubles) and Lu Kai-Huang Yaqiong (mixed doubles).