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BCA Indonesia Open 2014 – Day 6: ‘Jan-tastic’ Danes Double Up!

Jan Jorgensen defied history today, becoming the first European Men’s Singles champion at one of badminton’s most prestigious tournaments – the BCA Indonesia Open.

Amid frenzied celebrations inside the throbbing Istora Senayan and a presidential political rally unfolding next-door, the Danish darling was clearly the on-court candidate of choice for fans who all week embraced his every win en route to the championship.

Barely able to fathom his accomplishment, the 26-year-old fell to the carpet (BWF home page) as his rival, Kenichi Tago of Japan, netted a smash to put the coveted crown on his ponytailed conqueror: 21-18 21-18.

In a gesture of great sportsmanship, the finalists exchanged shirts and hugged (below left). Thereafter, Jorgensen thanked his supporters, flinging three rackets into various sections of the audience in appreciation.

“I can’t believe what I’ve done. I can’t believe I’ve won the Indonesia Open. It’s amazing. It’s by far the biggest achievement in my career. This means I’m one of the greats from Denmark,” declared an overwhelmed Jorgensen, the first non-Asian winner since the event began in 1982.

“They didn’t think I was ready when Peter Gade retired but today I have shown I’m one of the contenders for the big titles.”

His trailblazing exploits doubled Denmark’s haul as the European powerhouse started the proceedings in spectacular fashion, with Joachim Fischer Nielsen and Christinna Pedersen (below left) rebounding from a game down to snatch glory – 18-21 21-16 21-14 – from China’s Xu Chen and Ma Jin (below right).

Having lost the Maybank Malaysia Open final to the same opponents in January, they had the twin satisfaction of levelling their head-to-head record 6-6 and becoming only the second Danish Mixed Doubles pair to savour honours in Jakarta; the first being Pernille Dupont and Thomas Lund (now BWF Secretary General) in 1991.

Jokingly dubbed “Old Man Fischer” by Jorgensen, Fischer Nielsen at times played like his life depended on the match’s outcome; dashing around the court, smashing, rallying tenaciously at net and covering when his partner was sometimes out of position. The Danes dropped the first game but grew in confidence and stepped up their attack as the Chinese wilted under mounting pressure and thunderous spectator sentiment in favour of the soon-to-be winners.

Ahead 11-7 at the third-game interval, Denmark’s seasoned campaigners pressed home their advantage and, at 17-11, it appeared only a matter of time before they ascended the podium’s top step. Pedersen secured match point with a smash, triggering deafening festivities among the thousands on hand.

“This is a special feeling. We came close (to this title) last year and we’re proud to win here. It’s been very difficult for Europeans to win in Indonesia and today I don’t think we could have done it without the crowd,” said 35-year-old Fischer Nielsen.

Then it was the turn of the tattooed titan to see if he could again repel the challenge of hard-working Tago in a World Superseries showdown; having done so at last year’s Yonex French Open.

Honestly, there wasn’t much between the two in the opening game and it could have gone either way, with them feeling each other out and trading points consistently, especially with some tight net play. It was evident something would have to give for a decisive breakthrough in this tense affair. True to his word, it was Jorgensen who grabbed some fleeting chances to dictate, with the score deadlocked 18-18; his enterprise and patience earning him the next three points.

Buoyed by that, Jorgensen was more daring in the second game while Tago (right) became frustrated and decidedly erratic on certain shots. At 14-8 ahead, the Dane just had to keep focus and, though guilty of a few loose shots to help the opposition’s cause, he remained on course for his date with destiny; engulfed in a flood of emotion when the moment came.

It was all fun and smiles from thereon.

“Tago kicked my butt the last two times we played but I felt I had momentum after yesterday (semi-finals). I tried not to open up the court too much. So it was more about using the net and I felt I was ahead in that aspect,” explained the triumphant No. 3 seed.

Asked about Denmark’s overall performance in front of one of badminton’s most discerning publics, he acknowledged it was definitely “a good result” ahead of the Li-Ning BWF World Championships in the Danish capital in late August.

Then he smiled and quipped: “I’m glad to see that old man Fischer has won again.”

The packed press conference room erupted in laughter.

Interestingly, the vanquished Tago - still wondering if and when he will ever win a World Superseries - admitted he felt more confident versus Malaysia's Lee Chong Wei in the semi-final than against Jorgensen today.

Meanwhile, the increasingly imposing partnership of Lee Yong Dae and Yoo Yeon Seong thwarted the repeat ambitions of Indonesian Men’s Doubles duo Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan. Despite the comfortable 21-15 21-17 result against the hometown heroes, Indonesian fans applauded both pairs and appreciated that their players saved five match points before succumbing (right: presentation ceremony).

Playing critical points better and showing their all-round skills, Lee and Yoo took the first game 21-15 and motored to a 7-1 lead in the second. It proved too much for the reigning champions to reel in and the Koreans romped to their second successive World Superseries, having prevailed in Japan last weekend.

“This is a good time for me. It’s the first occasion winning the Indonesia Open with Yoo Yeon Seong and I’m very excited. We communicated and collaborated well,” said Lee, who tasted victory at the Indonesia event with Jung Jae Sung in 2009 and 2012.

HIGHLIGHTS:

* The leading lady of Women’s Singles, China’s Li Xuerui (above right), gave a polished performance to defend her title versus the rejuvenated Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand (above left). Winning 21-13 21-13, the World No. 1 was “thrilled” to replicate her feat of a year ago and announced her intention to qualify for the BWF Destination Dubai World Superseries Finals in December and seek a third straight year-end championship.

* China’s Olympic gold medallists, Tian Qing and Zhao Yunlei, took the Women’s Doubles title without even having to hold a racket. Following the Mixed Doubles, Ma Jin withdrew from her second final with a torn muscle in her right thigh. She was to have partnered Tang Yuanting against their compatriots. Despite the circumstances, the champions were pleased to add to their impressive list of awards.

Women's Doubles winners (right) and runners-up (left).

*****

The Istora Senayan in all its glory on finals day.

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