How often do players making their Istora Senayan bow get to stay unbeaten – that too as qualifiers – until the semifinals of a big event.
That’s been the story of mixed pair Jesper Toft and Clara Graversen at DAIHATSU Indonesia Masters 2024 so far – the Danes doing it in style to boot in the quarterfinals today by silencing the home crowd with a composed 37-minute 21-15 21-16 win over Rehan Naufal Kusharjanto/Lisa Ayu Kusumawati.
Although Jiang Zhen Bang/Wei Ya Xin went on to finish runners-up after starting in the Indonesia Masters qualification rounds last year, no European player has pulled off the feat at the hallowed venue since the HSBC BWF World Tour came into being in 2018.
“I’m feeling overwhelmed, I’ve got goosebumps,” said an emotional Graversen. “We didn’t expect to reach the semifinals. We came from qualifying, we just wanted to make the main draw. Every match since has been a bonus.
“We just wanted to enjoy the whole experience of playing at the Istora. It’s loud, wow, it’s so loud. Hearing about it and experiencing it on court are two different things. I’ve loved playing here.”
The world No.44s have not put a foot wrong since coming through qualifying, beating three higher-ranked pairs on their way to the last four.
How did Toft and Graverson engineer the takedown of an accomplished local tandem?
“I had some good serves and a lot of variety in there too,” said Toft. “And our coach told us to be the braver ones. If we just enjoy the experience, we would get our heads cracked so we had to be courageous.
“This is our first time playing at the Istora. We’ve heard all the stories about the arena but playing against a home pair, I just had to go into my own beautiful bubble. I’m really looking forward to the semifinals.”
The result advances them to a battle against Hiroki Midorikawa/Natsu Saito. The Japanese broke their own duck, netting a first win (13-21 21-16 21-17) in four meetings over the now third-seeded Jiang/Wei.
“Finally, we did it. We watched our previous matches against them and realised our defence wasn’t as solid as it could be. Today we went on the attack, particularly in the second game. That worked,” shared Midorikawa post-match.
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