Plenty of column inches have been written about the temporary change in venue for the BCA Indonesia Open but a switch from the fan-haven Istora Senayan to the Jakarta Convention Center certainly proved home comforts for Lilyiana Natsir and Tontowi Ahmad.
The JCC may have 10,000 fewer seats than it’s noisier brother but what it lacked in capacity was made up for in roar as collectively the roof was lifted when Natsir, playing through the pain of a knee injury, floored Championship point in her backyard.
For Natsir and Ahmad, this was their first, long awaited home Superseries title win – at the third time of asking as a duo.
From Birmingham to Beijing they have dominated, returning home to a heroes welcome from their travels. But a title win, at home, in Jakarta and in front of their most ardent of fans had eluded them.
Finals day defeats two years running – in 2011 and 2012 – brought disappointment when in their prime. But roll forward to 2017 and the enigmatic pair, so often the neutral’s favourites on the circuit, finally delighted their fans – and in some style. They beat Zheng Siwei and Chen Qingchen, the world number ones, in straight games 22-20, 21-15 and in only 45 minutes to net the $79,000 prize
Speaking to the BWF, Ahmad said “This is so emotional for me. We have won so many titles but we had not won in our own country. We prepared well and we had the right strategies. We went all out and thank God, we won.”
For Natsir, being crowned Indonesia Open queen for a second time (having won with former partner Novo Widianto in 2005), pairing Ahmad to the title carried extra significance.
“I am pleased to give this prize to Indonesia,” Natsir said. “We finally showed that we can win this tournament and we are grateful to reach this milestone”.
Natsir and Ahmad’s Indonesia Open win ends a four year wait – since Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan’s 2013 men’s doubles title – to see home favourites on the top step of the podium.