After appearing unsatisfactory at the beginning of the year, Rehan Naufal Kusharjanto/Lisa Ayu Kusumawati can overcome the burden. The world's 15th ranked mixed doubles advanced to the All England semifinals.
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BIRMINGHAM, FRIDAY — The sudden change in the composition of the coaching team for the national badminton mixed doubles and the demand for high targets became a heavy burden for Rehan Naufal Kusharjanto/Lisa Ayu Kusumawati, giving them bad results in early 2023. Their efforts to adapt began to bear fruit by reaching the semifinals at the All England.
The semifinal ticket was obtained after Rehan/Lisa defeated Kyohei Yamashita/Naru Shinoya (Japan), with a score of 21-19, 15-21, 21-19, in the quarter-finals at Utilita Arena Birmingham, England, on Friday (17/3/2023) . The victory, gained from the 1 hour 16 minute match was revenge for the defeat of Rehan/Lisa in the first round of the Indonesia Masters in Jakarta, in January.
“I feel happy to be in the semifinals of the BWF World Tour Super 1000 tournament for the first time. Thank you to Allah SWT for the blessing for me and Lisa. Thank you to our parents who always pray for us,” Rehan commented.
Although their journey in Birmingham is not yet complete, the semifinal, which will be played in their debut at the All England on Saturday, marks the beginning of releasing the burdens that were piled up at the beginning of the year. That burden made them only reach the second round as the best result of four individual tournaments.
At an interview during preparations for the All England at the Cipayung National Training Center in Jakarta, Rehan/Lisa said they had to adapt to the sudden change in the coaching team. Nova Widianto, who was the mixed doubles head coach, moved to Malaysia in early 2023.
Nova moved after successfully improving the performances of two senior mixed doubles, Rehan/Lisa and Rinov Rivaldy/Pitha Haningtyas Mentari, which could help them become the world's top pair.
At the end of 2022, Rehan/Lisa reached the semifinals of the French Open Super 750 and won the Hylo Open Super 300. Meanwhile, Rinov/Pitha reached the final of the Malaysia Masters Super 500 and the semifinals of the final tournament in 2022, the BWF Finals.
Nova's move made the mixed doubles teams adapt to the program and training method of the replacement coach, Amon Santoso. Rinov/Pitha and Rehan/Lisa were also required to adapt quickly because they would have to face the qualifications for the 2024 Paris Olympics on 1 May 2023-28 April 2024.
In fact, adjusting to a new situation, as Rehan said, was not an easy thing. Moreover, Rinov/Pitha and Rehan/Lisa are the two most senior national mixed doubles, even though their performance in the BWF World Tour tournament has not been consistent.
“In the mixed doubles, there are no senior players who can drive us to be better. This is unlike in the men's doubles sector, which has the world's top pairs. So, young players who train with seniors get better. Unlike them, we have to train alone to develop quickly, "said Rehan.
Now, we are able to overcome the burden that previously existed.
Rehan/Lisa said they had to increase the portion of practice in order to improve their play. “It doesn't mean adding heavy training, but training with a focus on correcting each other's weaknesses. Lisa and I helped each other do that," said the son of former national badminton player Tri Kusharjanto.
After five championships since the second week of January, they had around three weeks to focus on the All England. It was carried out while adjusting to new situations.
"Now, we are able to overcome the burden that previously existed," said Lisa. The pair ranked 15th in the world are confident they can play better than the first four tournaments.
After winning three rounds, now their ability will be tested by the world's best mixed doubles, Zheng Si Wei/Huang Ya Qiong (China), in the semifinals. “We have to play without a burden because we have reached the semifinals. Opponents, too, are not easy to beat,” said Lisa, who lost in two meetings with the world number one mixed doubles.
The defeat in the women's doubles quarter-finals made Apriyani Rahayu unable to contain her sadness. Apriyani/Siti Fadia Silva Ramadhanti lost to the South Korean pair, Lee So-hee/Baek Ha-na, 11-21, 21-14, 14-21.
"I am very emotional. Even though we had prepared as best as we could, it was not that easy to become a champion. Very difficult, yes, full of struggle. However, we should be grateful. It turned out we were able to overcome even though we did not win. It must be sad," said Apriyani, crying.
The 24-year-old player has the right to cry. What she has revealed since practice shows that she knows what to do when facing an event as big as the All England.
Apriyani learned not to be overly confident as in the 2018 All England with Greysia Polii. Because they were too focused on the title, Greysia/Apriyani could not focus on the first round match until they lost.
Another moment that she brought as a lesson was when she appeared at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Here, Greysia/Apriyani did not only focus on each of the matches, but also enjoyed them.
Apriyani prevented herself from saying she wanted to become the champion since making her debut in 2018.
“It's not that I don't want to win, but I learned from experience. If athletes say they will focus on each match, that's not nonsense," she said.
Leo Rolly Carnando/Daniel Marthin also lost after a tight match. The pair who got rid of the second seeds, Aaron Chia/Soh Wooi Yik (Malaysia), in the first round lost to players who have competed since their junior days, namely Wang Chan/Liang Wei Keng (China), 21-13, 19-21, 18- 21.