Sony Dwi Kuncoro picked an ideal time to return to form after a long spell stuck in the wilderness.
Less than a week after defeating Chinese superstar Lin Dan and winning the Thailand Open Grand Prix Gold, Sony picked up another high-profile victory at the Indonesia Open Super Series Premier on Wednesday.
He beat No. 3 seed Peter Gade of Denmark 14-21, 21-7, 21-18, his ninth straight victory after a pair of wins in qualifying on Tuesday. Sony’s reward is a second-round match today against compatriot Taufik Hidayat at Istora Gelora Bung Karno.
“Of course I am proud to have beaten the favorites. Last week it was Lin Dan and now Peter. These are the fruits of my labor,” Sony said.
Taufik advanced with a 21-18, 21-19 defeat of local qualifier Andre Kurniawan Tedjono.
Back, wrist and ankle injuries had left Sony on the sidelines more often than not in the past two years. Those struggles saw him dropped from Indonesia’s Thomas Cup squad and miss out on the London Olympics.
Since crashing out in the second round of the Australia Open Grand Prix Gold in April, though, he has shown signs of his old form. Sony reached the final of the Malaysia Open Grand Prix Gold last month, losing in the final to world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei, and he has so far managed to stay healthy.
Sony was not all smiles, though, saying after the match that he played too tentatively at the start.
“In the next games I changed my play. I was more aggressive, and on the last points of Game 3 my smash made me a lot of points,” he said.
There was also a bittersweet tinge to the match. Gade, long a fixture on the men’s badminton scene, made his final appearance at the Indonesia Open. He plans to retire after the Olympics.
“Sony is on his way back from injury. Finally he’s back to his normal form, which is nice to see. Of course, it was not nice for me to see that as I had to play against Sony as well,” the Dane said.
Gade also took time to praise the crowd and the tournament, which he said was among his favorites despite never winning in Jakarta.
“There was a lot of drift on the court, no surprise. Both players were good in taking advantage of that. Of course I would like to have won, but I enjoyed playing the match and this is my last time here. I really enjoyed the crowd for one last time. They are fantastic,” he said.
“I always enjoy playing here. This is one of the big forums of badminton. You have a special place here. Every time I came here, I feel like there’s going to be memories.”
The host nation’s results elsewhere were mixed.
Pia Zebadiah Bernadet and Rizki Amelia Pradipta heaped more woe on Denmark, upsetting women’s doubles No. 5 seeds Christinna Pedersen and Kamilla Rytter Juhl 21-17, 21-18. Earlier in the day, Pia teamed up with Markis Kido in mixed doubles to beat fifth-seeded Chen Hung-ling and Chung Wen-hsing of Taiwan 21-17, 21-18.
Markis and Pia play Irfan Fadhilah and Weni Anggraini in the second round.
In men’s doubles, though, No. 6 seeds Mohammad Ahsan and Bona Septano lost 21-16, 19-21, 21-17 to Malaysia’s Mohd Zakry Abdul Latif and Mohd Fairuzizuan Mohd Tazari. The women’s singles top seed, Wang Yihan of China, moved on after Adrianti Firdasari retired with an injury just 10 minutes into their match.