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RI team must content as runner-up in Asia Zone qualifier

Having already secured a place in the May 9-16 Thomas Cup and Uber Cup Finals in Kuala Lumpur, the Indonesian Uber Cup badminton squad failed to capitalize on the triumph, coming runner-up in the Asia Zone preliminaries in Thailand on Sunday.

After smashing South Korea 4-1 in Friday's Group X final, Indonesia was beaten 2-3 by the same opponent in Sunday's Asia Zone qualifier final.

Indonesia's third-string Aprilia Yuswandari failed to repeat Friday's unexpected 21-18, 21-10 win over world number 30, South Korean Ji Hyun Sung, as the world number 146 was crushed 12-21, 14-21.

"Apparently, *Aprilia* was a bit tense because she was playing the determining match," Indonesian Badminton Association (PBSI) secretary general and team manager, Jacob Rusdianto, told The Jakarta Post on Sunday.

Match opener, first Adriyanti Firdasari was too good for Bae Seung Hee, as she again cruised past the Korean 21-10, 21-13. On Friday, world number 22 Adriyanti beat world number 17 Seung Hee with the scores of 21-17, 15-21, 21-15.

Indonesia led 2-0 as its first doubles Greysia Polii/Meiliana Jauhari also defeated Lee Kyung Won/Ha Jung Eun in 21-14, 21-12.

However, Indonesia's lead was short-lived. Second singles Maria Kristin Yulianti won 21-17 in the first set against Bae Youn Joo, yet surrendered 14-21, 7-21 in the second and third sets. World number 36 Youn Joo won all five qualifying matches, including a victory over Indonesia second-string player and world number 27 Maria Febe Kusumastuti and world number 26 Japanese Sayaka Sato in the semifinals.

Second-string doubles pair Shendy Puspa Irawati/Liliyana Natsir failed to stop the rot, winning their first set against Lee Hyo Jung/Jung Kyung Eun 21-13, before conceding the next two 12-21, 13-21. Aprilia's loss in the last match ended the Indonesian Uber Cup team's hopes at winning the Asia Zone qualifier.

Only the top three teams in the Thomas-Uber Cups Asia Zone qualifiers can advance to the May finals, where a total of 12 teams will be participating, including 10 qualifiers, host country Malaysia and defending champion China.

Indonesia and South Korea booked their spots in the May finals as both emerged as the Uber Cup finalists of the Asia Zone qualifier. Indonesia beat India 3-0 in the Saturday's sudden-death matches, while the Korea defeated Japan by 3-1. The following Sunday, Japan became the third country to qualify for the finals after it ditched India, 3-2.

Meanwhile, as the Thomas Cup Asia Zone qualifier champion, Indonesia had already booked a spot for the May finals with runners-up South Korea and third-place winner India, whose male players defeated Japan's by 3-2. On Friday, Indonesia had to work hard for its 3-2 win against the Koreans.

The three crucial points were all contributed by single shuttlers Taufik Hidayat, Sony Dwi Kuncoro and Simon Santoso.

The Badminton World Federation (BWF) World Ranking on Mar. 4 will determine either India or the Netherlands as the last team to qualify for the Uber Cup Final and either Japan or Ukraine for the Thomas Cup Finals. - JP/Agnes Winarti

Source from The Jakarta Post

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