Sigit and Wijaya Win Third Title In Four Tries
by Mike Grossman (from a report filed by J. Chang for YANG YANG Badminton Equipment)

November 16, 1996 (New Shuttlenws) - Two of China's ace singles players today defeated their finals opponents at the badminton Thailand Open and claimed both men's and women's singles titles for China.

Not to be outdone, Indonesian doubles teams won the men's and women's doubles titles that were at stake today. The mixed doubles championship had already been decided yesterday with Indonesians Trikus Heryanto (or, as the Indonesians write it, Tri Kusharyanto) and Minarti Timur beating compatriots Flandy and Riseu, 15-5 and 15-7.

In men's singles, Olympic silver medalist Dong Jiong beat world number one Joko Suprianto of Indonesia, 15-13 and 15-7, in an exciting 44-minute championship match.

The top-seeded Indonesian started off in the first game with a deadly combination of smashes and drops that got him a 2-0 lead. The score went to 4-2 as the second-seeded Dong got back into the game with his deceptive leaping smashes and drops.

Dong managed to equalize at 4-4 and then seized the lead at 6-5. With Dong slightly ahead 7-5, Joko fought back to himself equalize and pass Dong.

The two then staged several furious rallies and exchanged leads. At 9-all, Dong scored twice on a combination of leaping shots to take the lead for good at 11-9.

However, Joko was not yet done as he again fought back to try to equalize. Dong, though, was in top form. Despite Joko's scrambling, blocking, and jump-smashing efforts, the Chinese player stretched his lead and reached game point at 14-11.

Still, Joko fought on and tallied 2 markers to close the gap 14-13. The Chinese player steadied himself. He managed to retrieve the serve to stop the Indonesian scoring surge. He then scored the game-winning point with a powerful smash to the sideline beyond Suprianto's reach.

In the second game, Dong raced to a commanding early lead as Suprianto's game turned erratic with his shots hitting the net or landing out-of-bounds.

With the score at 8-1 in Dong's favor, Suprianto began to find his wind and his game. He cut down on his errors and went on the attack. With some crosscourt smashes and very deceptive drops, he outscored Dong 6 points to 1 to close the gap to 9-7, Dong still ahead.

Dong then stepped up the tempo. With fast attacking play and pinpoint shots in the net area, Dong induced a tiring Suprianto into several errors that the Chinese player turned into 3 points. The score: 12-7 in Dong's favor.

Dong got to match point on fast rallies, ending these with accurate drop shots that the Indonesian was unable to defend successfully. Dong then won the match when Suprianto smashed a high Dong shot into the net.

The women's singles match was between 3-4 seeds Wang Chen of China and Kim Ji Hyun of Korea. Kim demolished the young and nervous Chinese player in the first game 11-2.

In the second game, Wang, the 1994 world junior champion, bore down and beat Kim 11-5. The decider also went Wang's way 11-7.

In the women's doubles finals, the Indonesian pair of Denyana Lomban and Isoliana Indarti easily defeated Marlene Thomsen and Lisbet Stuer-Lauridsen of Denmark, 15-9 and 15-4.

The men's doubles final between the super-hot Indonesian pair of Sigit Budiarto and Chandra Wijaya and the Korean tandem of Ha Tae Kwon and Kang Kyung Jin was an exciting matchup.

The first game of the men's doubles final went to the Indonesians who used their quickness around the court against the taller and heavier Koreans to win 15-11. In the second game, Ha and Kang changed tactics and played prolonged rallies to neutralize Sigit and Wijaya's quickness. The Korean tactics worked as the Indonesians tired and slowed down, dropping the game 10-15.

In the decider, none of the two pairs could gain the upper hand. The Indonesians and the Koreans exchanged leads and services many times until SIgit and Wijaya pulled ahead late into the game to win at 15-12.

For the newly-formed Indonesian pair of Sigit and Chandra Wijaya, the Thai Open is their third championship in four attempts. They won the U.S. Open in September, their very first international tournament together. At that tourney, they beat the Olympic bronze medalists, Antonius Iriantho and Denny Kantono of Indonesia, in the semifinals and then the Olympic silver medalists, Cheah Soon Kit and Yap Kim Hock of Malaysia, in the finals.

They then followed that championship with the China Open three weeks ago where they defeated the Olympic gold medalists, Ricky Subagja and Rexy Mainaky of Indonesia, in the finals.

Sigit and Chandra Wijaya, though, are not new to the international circuit. Sigit used to play with Dicky Purwotsugiono and the two were highly rated in the world ranking lists as were Chandra Wijaya and former partner Ade Sutrisna. Sigit and Purwotsugiono had won the Swiss Open earlier this year while Wijaya and Sutrisna have the 1995 U.S. Open championship in their list of top finishes.

However, the two seem to play better together than with their previous partners, given the three championships in four tries that they have won so far.