Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Indons To Skip Masters Finals

Indonesian shuttlers will skip the Super Series Masters Finals due to a tight schedule ahead of the approaching Southeast Asian (SEA) Games.

Running from Dec. 2 to 6 in Johor Baru, Malaysia, the Masters Finals, which features the top eight singles and doubles players in five categories from the year-round Super Series tournaments, ends days before the SEA Games begin.

However, the Malaysian SEA Games hopefuls, according to coach Rexy Mainaky, will be hosting the event with a full-strength team.

The SEA Games will be held in Laos from Dec. 9 to 18.

The Indonesian players will make the China Super Series, which began Tuesday, their last tryout before heading for Laos.

"We'll abide by KONI's *the National Sports Council* policy not to send our shuttlers to the Super Series Finals as it ends too close to the opening of the SEA Games," Jacob Rusdianto, secretary-general of the Indonesian Badminton Association (PBSI), told The Jakarta Post on Monday.

The US$500,000 Johor Baru event is the second edition of the Super Series Masters Finals. In the inaugural tournament last year, Indonesian players failed to win any titles.

"We fear the players might be injured, and want them at peak performance in Laos," said Jacob, adding the PBSI had also decided to reschedule the national championships, initially set for Dec. 1 to 5.

Indonesia will send 18 shuttlers to Laos, including those who have qualified for the Super Series Finals.

Those include Simon Santoso and Sony Dwi Kuncoro in the men's singles; Adrianti Firdasari (women's singles); Markis Kido/Hendra Setiawan (men's doubles); Shendy Puspa Irawati/Meliana Jauhari and Nitya Krishinda Maheswari/Greysia Polii (women's doubles), and Nova Widianto/Liliyana Natsir and Devin Lahardi Fitriawan/Lita Nurlita (mixed doubles).

Other shuttlers - Taufik Hidayat (men's singles) and Alvent Yulianto Chandra/Hendra Aprida Gunawan (men's doubles) - may play in the Johor Baru event, after not making the SEA Games team.

Based on the SEA Games draw, the Indonesian men's team will meet Vietnam in the first round, while the women get a bye.

The China Super Series will be a test for the new mixed doubles pairing of Liliyana and Devin, with Liliyana's regular partner, the 32-year-old Nova, set to retire.

Nova and Liliyana were the only Indonesians to advance to last week's Hong Kong finals, where they lost to Robert Mateusiak and Nadiezda Kostiuczyk of Poland on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Indonesian Rexy Mainaky, who coaches the Malaysian team, told the Post they would field their top shuttlers, including world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei (men's singles), Koo Kien Kiat/Tan Boon Heong (men's doubles) and Chin Eei Hui/Wong Pei Tty (women's doubles).

They will also be among Malaysia's 20-strong team for the Laos trip, although Lee was quoted Monday by Reuters as saying, "To expect one to peak in four back-to-back tournaments is asking for the impossible.

"I will compete in the China Open and Masters Finals. But I'm not sure whether I will be able to raise my game in the SEA Games," he said.

"It has been a decision by the country's head badminton coach, Rasyid Sidek, our badminton association and our sports council that Lee Chong Wei will play in both the Super Series Finals and the Laos SEA Games," Rexy said.