08-25-2009, 10:02 PM #1
Nova Widianto and Liliyana Natsir to split
August 25, 2009
By Sandy Pramuji
Indonesia’s Badminton Dream Team Split Up Ahead Of Taiwan Tourney
When the Taiwan Grand Prix Gold starts today, Liliyana Natsir will open a new chapter in her badminton career.
Longtime partner Nova Widianto, who has repeatedly said he is too old to compete at the highest level, asked the Indonesian Badminton Association (PBSI) to find another partner for Liliyana, and the association answered by sending Muhammad Rijal for a trial run in Taiwan.
“Just like Nova has been guiding me throughout my career, now I’m ready to be Rijal’s mentor,” Liliyana, 24, said on Tuesday.
Rijal and Liliyana’s first test is today’s first-round match against Terry Yeo and Li Yujia of Singapore at Hsingchuang Stadium.
Liliyana and Nova had been together since 2004 and became one of the best mixed doubles teams in the world. Together they won 13 tournaments, including world championship titles in 2005 and 2007.
But since winning the silver medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, their performances tailed off, with only one Super Series title this year, a victory in the Malaysia Open in January.
They lost to Denmark’s Thomas Laybourn and Kamilla Rytter Juhl in the world championship final in Hyderabad, India, earlier this month.
After the worlds, mixed doubles coach Richard Mainaky admitted that Nova was not as fast and strong as before. The PBSI started the search for Liliyana’s new partner with Rijal (23), Fran Kurniawan (24) and Tantowi Ahmad (21) the main candidates.
At first, the coach chose Tantowi to have a test run with Liliyana in Taiwan.
He switched to Rijal after Rijal’s partner, Debby Susanto, injured her back in training last week and could not go to the tournament.
Rijal has one decided advantage over the rest of the candidates.
He is the only one of the three to win a Super Series title, having claimed the Japan Open mixed doubles crown with Vita Marissa last year.
Rijal and Vita were seen as a promising pair to take over Nova and Liliyana’s spot, but Vita left the national team earlier this year when she and the PBSI could not agree on contract terms.
Before Vita, the Tangerang-born Rijal was partnered with Greysia Polii. Their best showing was a runner-up finish at the Swiss Open Super Series.
Rijal’s best achievement this year with Debby was the semifinals of the Philippine Open Grand Prix Gold and Vietnam International Challenge.
With Liliyana and Rijal still undergoing a try-out period, they will only compete together in second- and third-tier tournaments.
“We’ll assess their performance after the Taiwan tournament,” national team head coach Christian Hadinata said. “For Super Series tournaments, Liliyana will still play with Nova, at least until the end of this year, because they are still the best that we have.”
08-25-2009, 10:36 PM #2
I wonder why Nova Widianto is such a succesful mixed double player but never play in men doubles?
08-25-2009, 11:07 PM #3
08-26-2009, 12:08 AM #4
Very sad to hear the news. They are the only competitive players from Indonesia that I know aside from Kido & Setiawan who can challenge the best players and win. Hope to the new pairing would be very successful in the future.
08-26-2009, 01:06 AM #5
Tease aside, i think it's about time Liliyana finally gets a newer, fresher partner. I don't know how well this new partnership will bloom into, but hopefully with a renewed vigor and youth, on their side, this XD pairing will be a XD pair to be reckoned with.
08-26-2009, 02:21 AM #6
08-26-2009, 03:48 AM #7
08-26-2009, 05:56 AM #8
It's a tradition that INA's MD players (especially the top pairs) will NEVER BE ALLOWED to play XD simultaneously. Can you recall Ricky/Rexy, Tony/Candra, Tony/Halim, Candra/Sigit, Luluk/Alvent or Kido/Hendra playing Mixed? Similarly for the younger pairs like Bona/Ahsan. The trend might change in the future with the emergence of players like Mohd Ulinnuha, who can play in both events, but, again, it will have to depend on their coaches, once Ulin joins Pelatnas sometime next year
On the other hand, the men's players in the Mixed Doubles are usually those players who have had enough of Men's Doubles or could not break the ranks. For example: Tri Kusharyanto, Flandy Limpele (he switched to XD only after his MD partner retired from the National Team), Nova Widianto.
Nova was instructed to play MD only for 1 event (the BAC 2008) in preparation of the Thomas Cup 2008 and that too because INA's second MD was poor and we had to rely on Candra and Nova's experience at that time.
08-26-2009, 11:32 AM #9
08-26-2009, 12:05 PM #10
08-26-2009, 12:10 PM #11
08-26-2009, 12:20 PM #12
08-26-2009, 02:58 PM #13
It is rare..
Btw, you forgot to mention, arguably, the best doubles player in INA baddy history: Christian Hadinata.
08-26-2009, 07:15 PM #14
Sad that Nova is will finally most likely retire. No doubt he will have some involvement in INA badminton when he retires though.. His experience would be priceless to the younger players!
08-26-2009, 07:37 PM #15
08-27-2009, 09:41 PM #16
08-27-2009, 09:51 PM #17
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