PETALING JAYA: Malaysia and Indonesia’s rivalry in badminton, particularly the Thomas Cup, goes all the way back to the late 1950s.
But the most fiercely-contested period probably took place from 1992-2002 where the two nations featured in four of the six finals.
World No. 7 Jonatan Christie was only five when Indonesia last lifted the trophy after beating Malaysia 3-2 in Guangzhou in 2002, but he knew exactly what the victory over their archrivals meant for the 273.5mil people in his country.
On Friday, Jonatan turned hero for his side after sealing the winning point with a 14-21, 21-19, 21-16 victory over Ng Tze Yong in the second singles of the quarter-final tie at the Ceres Arena in Aarhus.
And the 2018 Asian Games gold medallist declared “it’s a win for everybody in Indonesia”.
“Indonesia and Malaysia’s (rivalry) is just like Japan and South Korea, it’s not just in badminton, but other sports as well. We have a strong rivalry,” he told Badminton Europe after the match.
“It’s very, very important for me, the team and the Indonesian people.”
Jonatan’s teammates – Anthony Ginting and Marcus Fernaldi-Kevin Sanjaya – had earlier won their respective matches to give the 13-time winners a commanding 2-0 lead.
Anthony and Marcus-Kevin exacted sweet revenge over rivals Lee Zii Jia and Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik after losing in their previous encounters at the Sudirman Cup in Finland which resulted in Indonesia’s exit in the quarter-finals following a 3-1 defeat.
Anthony, who beat Zii Jia 21-15, 21-17, was delighted to deny the latter a second consecutive victory against him.
“After losing to Zii Jia previously, I didn’t want to lose my second chance (to beat him).
“So I tried my very best (to win).”
Marcus echoed Anthony’s sentiment and said they were driven by the will to avenge their last defeats, more so as the world No. 1 pair had been under fire after losing twice to Aaron-Wooi Yik including their quarter-final defeat in the Tokyo Olympics.
Prior to that, they dominated all their seven meetings.