Primastuti Handayani, The Jakarta Post, Madrid
The World Badminton Championships began Monday in Madrid, Spain, with Indonesia's unseeded women's singles and doubles players clearing their first hurdles.
Fransisca Nana Ratnasari, whose goal coming in was just to make the third round, got off to a shaky start before conquering her opening-day jitters and defeating the little-known Jeanine Cicognini of Switzerland 21-18, 21-17.
She said the pressure of the championships forced her into numerous unforced errors.
It's always like this, especially in a big event. I consider myself lucky to face an unseeded player in the first round, Nana said. I can't imagine if I had to face a seeded player in the early rounds. I would be unable to do anything.
Her next match, however, will be tougher as she meets Malaysia's Wong Mew Choo, who had to come from behind to beat Chien Yu-Chin of Chinese Taipei 18-21, 22-20, 21-10.
Nana lost to Wong in their only previous encounter, at the 2006 Uber Cup qualifying session in Jaipur, India, in February.
Wong, who also blamed nervousness for her sluggish start in her opening match, said she was confident about her chances against Nana as long as she played her normal game.
I played badly today, I was nervous because it's my first game, said Wong.
Indonesian team manager Lius Pongoh said Nana would have to play better in the second round Wednesday if she hoped to stay in the tournament.
Both players have a similar type of rallying. They are both tough. It all depends on Nana. If she can minimize her unforced errors, she has a chance to win, he said.
Nana's coach Hendrawan, who won the men's singles world championship title five years ago in Seville, Spain, said although it was unlikely his player would make it past top seed Zhang Ning of China in the third round, just competing in the event was giving her precious experience.
It was a good decision that the Badminton Association of Indonesia finally sent an inexperienced Nana to such a major event. It's better than last year (at the world championships in Anaheim, California) when we didn't send any women's singles or doubles players because the association thought they didn't have a chance (of winning), he said recently in Jakarta ahead of the national squad's departure for Spain.
Indonesia has had only two women's world champions: Verawaty Fadjrin in 1980 and Susy Susanti in 1993.
Earlier Monday, women's doubles Jo Novita/Greysia Polii of Indonesia scored an unconvincing 21-10, 19-21, 21-9 opening round win against Rachel Van Cutsen/Paulien Van Dooremalen of the Netherlands. They will now face the Estonian pair of Piret Hamer/Helen Reino, who had a walkover win against Russia's Evgenia Dimova/Anna Efremova.
We have to be more careful in the next match, not make too many errors, Jo said.
If they get past the Estonians, they will likely meet top seeds Gao Ling/Huang Sui in the third round.
Later Monday, men's singles Sony Dwi Kuncoro will face Raul Must of Estonia.
Defending champion Taufik Hidayat will play his first match Tuesday at 1:30 p.m.local time (6:30 p.m. in Jakarta) against Ng Wei of Hong Kong, while Indonesian men's doubles Markis Kido/Hendra Setiawan will play an hour later against Ali Shahhoseini/Golam Reza Bagheri of Iran.
Taufik's preparations for the championships have been in question, especially with his poor performance in two tune-up tournaments in Korea and Hong Kong. He may also face an inquiry from the International Badminton Federation for walking off the court in Hong Kong during his match with China's Lin Dan after a questionable line call.
His coach Mulyo Handoyo earlier expressed concern Taufik didn't have the right motivation to defend his title.
He already has it all. He won the world championship and the Olympics. I just hope I can boost his fighting spirit for the championships, he said before the team's departure last week.
Although the championships have not really grabbled the attention of people in Madrid -- the only sign outside the venue that the event is taking place is three badminton courts set up in front of the Palacio de Deportes de la Comunidad de Madrid -- Indonesian shuttlers received a surprise morale boost from the President. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono held an impromptu meeting with the athletes while transiting at Madrid Barajas Airport after attending the Non-Aligned Movement summit in Havana, Cuba, last week.
During the meeting, Yudhoyono told the players not to be burdened by the pressure and to just do your best at the championships.
Bjoern Joppien (Ger) bt Lee Yen Hui Kendrick (Sgp) 21-17, 18-21, 22-20 Joachim Persson (Den x9) bt Shon Sheung Mo (Kor) 22-20, 21-13
Ratnasari (Ina) bt Jeanine Cicognini (Swi) 21-18, 21-17 Wong Mee-Chow (Mal x9) bt Chien Yu-Chin (Tpe) 18-21, 22-20, 21-10 Kaori Mori (Jpn x7) bt Anu Nieminen (Fin) 21-18, 21-11 Elin Bergblom (Swe) bt Maja Kersnik (Slo) 21-17, 21-16
Jo Novita/Greysia Polii (Ina) bt Rachel Van Cutsen/Paulien Van Dooremalen (Ned) 21-10, 19-21, 21-9
Hendra Wijaya/Fan Frances Liu (Sgp) bt Grace Daniel/Orobosa Okuonghae (Ngr) 21-8, 21-13