PETALING JAYA: Indonesia’s hero Jonatan Christie paid tribute to teammates including non-playing personnel after they lifted the Thomas Cup after 19 years to the delight of the badminton-crazy nation.
The world No. 7 was the toast of the team after he delivered the winning point in his hard-fought 21-14, 18-21, 21-14 win over Li Shifeng in the second singles as Indonesia beat China 3-0 at the Ceres Arena in Aarhus, Denmark.
Earlier, Anthony Ginting and Fajar Alfian-Muhammad Rian Ardianto had won their opening singles and doubles battles.
Asked how he felt to be the hero of the team, Jonatan told Badminton Europe: “I don’t think I’m the hero because we have many players in the team who are heroes (too).
“There’s also the physiotherapists, doctors and coaches. So, everyone in the team is a hero.”
Jonatan’s splendid performance in Aarhus showed that he is back in the groove after struggling to replicate the form that saw him win the Asian Games gold in 2018.
His performance in the Sudirman Cup was also shaky as he lost to Canada’s Brian Yang in his only match.
Even in the Thomas Cup, he failed to find his footing losing to Thailand’s 20-year-old Kunlavut Vitidsarn.
However, he turned the tide around after his win over Taiwan’s Wang Tzu-wei and has remained unbeaten since.
In the quarter-finals against Malaysia, he outplayed Ng Tze Yong and then went on to beat Denmark’s Anders Antonsen in the semi-finals.
Meanwhile, it was a case of being late than never for veteran Hendra Setiawan as he finally tasted success in his eighth attempt after settling for two runner-up finishes (in 2010 and 2016) and the losing semi-finalists on five other occasions (2006, 2008, 2012, 2014 and 2018).
Ironically, this was also the first time Hendra, 37, had been reduced to a secondary role.
He only played a match with Mohammad Ahsan, 35, against Algeria during the group stage.
“I’m very happy because this is my first time winning it and we bagged the trophy after 19 years. Finally we could take it back home. I don’t know what else to say, I just cannot express my feelings,” said Hendra, an Olympic gold medallist and a former world champion.
Indonesia bt China 3-0 (Anthony Ginting bt Lu Guangzu 18-21, 21-14, 21-16; Fajar Alfian-Muhammad Rian 21-12, 21-19; Jonatan Christie bt Li Shifeng 21-14, 18-21, 21-14).