Straits Times APRIL 11, 2004 Ronald wins first Japan Open singles TOKYO -- Singapore's Ronald Susilo enjoyed the best day in his career when he outclassed Bao Chunlai of China to win the men's singles title at the Japan Open badminton tournament on Sunday. The Indonesian-born 24-year-old seemed to control the game throughout the 45-minute battle against the left-handed world number five before scoring a 15-13, 15-6 success. 'It was a good match. I did pretty well today. I'm very happy to win this tournament. I hope to do even better in my next tournament,' said Susilo. 'Of course, it's special for me. It's great to win this prestigious Japan Open. I thank all the people coming today to watch. Hopefully, they will keep on supporting me in other tournaments, too.' Bao, who eliminated his teammate, reigning world number one Lin Dan on Saturday, hit some excellent jump smashes to come back from three points behind to take a 13-10 lead in the first game. But Susilo used an array of effective disguised overhead drops to Bao's backhand front corner and elicited some errors off the Chinese left-hander before taking the game. Susilo jumped ahead 7-2 from a 2-all in the second game, often showing quick attacks at the net to win a rally, and when he was leading 11-4, it was apparently Susilo's day. The former Anglo-Chinese School student smashed hard twice in a row to take a 13-6 lead, then his short serve caused Bao's return error, and completed his victory with another quick attack at the net on his second match point. 'I guess I just believed in myself that I can do it,' Susilo, ranked 15, said of the key to the victory after scoring his first win over Bao in four encounters. 'Previously, when I led, I always lost my concentration. This time, I tried to improve on that and keep on focusing on the game till the last point. It did work. 'I know I'm an underdog, he's higher ranked than me, so I played more relaxed, I didn't feel any pressure, I just enjoyed. That's why I could play all my abilities on the court. 'I tried to play the game as fast as possible, tried to attack his body and tried to use an available shot to make him confused. Whenever he came to the net, I just quickly pushed him back to the baseline. He was struggling with that. That's why I won many points from that,' added Susilo. Sunday's win was his biggest career title and carries US$14,400 first prize. It follows his first victory at the Thailand Open in January in the Grand Prix series last year. -- AFP For a long time, our local press did not find it worthwhile to publish results on badminton because there is nothing interesting for them to do so. With Ronald's win at the Japan Open and Li Li's win at the lesser known Croatian Open, I hope more publicity will be given to badminton. BTW, Ronald's triumphant and smiling face made it to the FRONT Page of the Straits Times and writeups were also given in the other papers. This is a rare achievement for a sportsman, especially a badminton player. I'm very happy for Ronald and hope he will train harder to have a go at the Olympic Gold! You know, for all their hard training and sacrifices, the world-class professional badminton players are really getting pittance compared to other professional sports, especially Tennis. Ronald received only US$14,400 (S$24,264) as prize-money, although this is his biggest purse.