The retirements of two of Indonesia’s most accomplished mixed doubles players – Liliyana Natsir and Debby Susanto – loomed large over the DAIHATSU Indonesia Masters that started Tuesday.
By the end of the opening day’s play, one of them – Susanto – had waved her goodbyes to the crowd, having fallen in the opening round.
Susanto – whose accomplishments include winning the All England in 2016 and the Korea Open in 2017, both with Praveen Jordan, said she was calling it a day as she planned to start a family.
“This result is not what we expected,” said Susanto after she and Ronald Ronald – a scratch combination – fell 21-15 21-13 to Germany’s Mark Lamsfuss and Isabel Herttrich.
“There was a lot of miscommunication on our side. It wasn’t that we were facing difficult shots. Our play though did not fit our expectations. I’m disappointed as this is my last tournament. The focus was to enjoy this game
“I want to focus on my family. After I married, I’ve rarely been home. It doesn’t feel like a real household. I want to focus on my parents too; from when I was small I’ve been away from them, so now it’s time to return.”
Interestingly, just as Susanto and Ronald walked off court, Susanto’s longtime partner Jordan walked in with Melati Daeva Oktavianti for their opening round match against China’s He Jiting/Du Yue. The match turned out to be a thriller, with the Indonesians having a close shave on their way to a 21-19 21-23 23-21 victory.
Stadium Istora was only about a third full, but even so, the ovation was thunderous when Liliyana Natsir’s name was announced. In many ways, the Indonesia Masters has been billed as Natsir’s farewell event. A hashtag – #ThankYouButet – has been prominently displayed for fans to post their love to the all-time great. The sparse crowd erupted with their ‘Owi-Butet’ chants when Ahmad and Natsir walked in, and were cheered through their 21-15 21-15 victory over India’s Pranaav Chopra and Sikki Reddy.
Natsir, reigning Olympic champion and four-time world champion (with two different partners), will bring to a close a stellar career. For over a decade Natsir has been one of the pre-eminent mixed doubles players on the circuit, evoking admiration all over the world for her skills as a forecourt player.
“It’s sad but I have to face it. I and Owi (Tontowi) will try to enjoy our time in our last tournament together,” said Natsir. “Now it’s time for a bit of revenge (against strict training). It’s more relaxed; earlier, I would always wake up to the alarm. My parents are grateful for my retirement. They want to spend more time with me.
“I’m grateful to PBSI and PB Djarum who have come up with this plan to make it a farewell event, making me a little tense and sad. The plan is to talk to my fans; the hardest to say goodbye to. Obviously I’m going to be emotional,” added Natsir.
Other first round winners on Tuesday included top seeds Zheng Siwei/Huang Yaqiong; Chris Adcock/Gabrielle Adcock; Goh Soon Huat/Shevon Jemie Lai and Takuro Hoki/Wakana Nagahara.
Men’s Singles: Shesar Hiren Rhustavito (Indonesia), Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk (Thailand), Sony Dwi Kuncoro (Indonesia), Subhankar Dey (India)
Women’s Singles: Chloe Birch (England); Dinar Dyah Ayustine, Ruselli Hartawan, Yulia Yosephin Susanto (all Indonesia)
Men’s Doubles: Inkarat Apisuk/Tanupat Viriyangkura (Thailand); Kittinupong Kedren/Dechapol Puavaranukroh (Thailand); Huang Kaixiang/Wang Zekang (China); Lee Jhe-Huei/Yang Po-Hsuan (Chinese Taipei)
Women’s Doubles: Hsu Ya Ching/Hu Ling Fang (Chinese Taipei); Liu Xuanxuan/Xia Yuting (China); Dian Fitriani/Nadya Melati; Dhea Bunga Anjani/Dinda Dwi Cahyaning (Indonesia)
Mixed Doubles: Lu Ching Yao/Lee Chia Hsin (Chinese Taipei); Rehan Naufal Kusharjanto/Siti Fadia Silva Ramadhanti (Indonesia); Andika Ramadiansyah/Annisa Saufika (Indonesia); Lin Chia Yu/Hsu Ya Ching (Chinese Taipei)