To think that, at this very tournament last year, almost to the day, Yeremia Erich Yoche Yacob Rambitan suffered the worst moment of his career – injury to his left knee on match point in the quarterfinals. And that, a year later, it would be Rambitan who’d score the winning point in a grand comeback to make the semifinals of the KAPAL API GROUP Indonesia Open 2023. Could fantasy get any fancier than this?
But that’s what unfolded at the Istora Senayan on Friday night. Rambitan and Pramudya Kusumawardana were fast slipping in their quarterfinal against world No.2 pair Liang Wei Keng/Wang Chang. With the Chinese leading 17-11 in the third and dominating every attack, it looked like a lost cause for home supporters, many of whom started filing out of the venue.
And then Kusumawardana stitched up a great sequence of serves. With every point the crowd got louder, now daring to dream that the match was still alive. The Chinese, flustered by the shifting momentum, blew some putaways. On match point, Rambitan was sensational with his backhand defence to set up the final kill that he buried on the opposite court.
Rambitan and Kusumawardana were in tears. The injury, which had come just after they’d won the Asian Championships, had derailed their progress. It was eventually at the Malaysia Open this January that they were able to compete again.
“Last year I got injured in the quarterfinals. It was very difficult. And this year to enter the semifinals for the first time means a lot because I was struggling so much after the injury, both mentally and physically. It was a hard time, and with this win we will regain a lot of confidence. On match point, Pramudya told me to calm down, we tried not to think of the win. He helped me so much today,” said Rambitan.
“It was very tiring, I couldn’t believe we could manage it and we finished it,” said Kusumawardana. “It’s been a tough journey. There was a break last year after the injury. For me, personally it was hard. We couldn’t blame anyone for the injury; it wasn’t his fault, it wasn’t my fault or the coaches’ fault. Right now, we’re happy we came back stronger.”