Singapore Badminton Open

Christie promises to make Indonesia proud

Japan's world champion Kento Momota speaking at a public press conference alongside Jonatan Christie at Wisma Atria yesterday. Both players begin their Singapore Open campaigns today.
Japan's world champion Kento Momota speaking at a public press conference alongside Jonatan Christie at Wisma Atria yesterday. Both players begin their Singapore Open campaigns today.ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

Asian Games champ eyes run at S'pore Open, having claimed scalps of Momota, Axelsen

Even as the badminton world raves about the resurgence of Lin Dan and the redemption of world No. 1 Kento Momota, Indonesia's Jonatan Christie has achieved new milestones in the past nine months with some impressive wins.

The 21-year-old has beaten the world's top four shuttlers - Momota, Shi Yuqi, Viktor Axelsen and Chou Tien-chen - in recent encounters.

Despite not winning a BWF Tour title yet, these victories, coupled with his triumphs at the 2017 SEA Games and last year's Asian Games, have given him the belief that he belongs among the elite.

"But I know I still need to work on my consistency and self-confidence if I am to win on tour," the world No. 8 told The Straits Times yesterday.

"Sometimes during the game, when you are down, it can be hard to have confidence.

"That is also why I'm training hard to become better each day. I keep in my mind that someday, I will make Indonesia proud."

His fan base seems to be growing.

At the Singapore Badminton Open press conference at Wisma Atria yesterday, his supporters were seen waving newspaper clippings while one Indonesian was in tears after being chosen to take a photo with Christie and the other stars players, including Japan's Momota and women's world No. 6 P. V. Sindhu of India.

There are also times when Christie can appear too emotional.

NATURAL EXPRESSION

They were not intentional, they just happened. They are all talented players and I'm fortunate to be able to play against them. I just want to enjoy this journey.

JONATAN CHRISTIE, Indonesia's Asian Games champion, denying celebrating excessively on purpose during matches.

Once an aspiring swimmer before switching to badminton when he was seven because his father "did not want my skin colour to get any darker", he was warned by the umpire for several delays during his wins over Momota and world No. 3 Axelsen at last week's Malaysia Open.

These were a result of his exuberant celebrations in between points, but he denied mind games were part of his inventory.

He said: "They were not intentional, they just happened. They are all talented players and I'm fortunate to be able to play against them. I just want to enjoy this journey."

Christie, whose progress in Kuala Lumpur was halted by reigning Olympic champion Chen Long in the semi-finals, will face Thailand's Khosit Phetpradab at the Singapore Indoor Stadium today in a repeat of the 2017 SEA Games final.

Meanwhile, Momota, the 2015 champion here who opens his campaign against 2017 winner B. Sai Praneeth of India, said: "I won my first BWF Superseries title here in 2015, which was very memorable, and I want to try to win another one this year."

The 24-year-old reigning Japanese and world champion may be the top seed, but the top match of the first round will be the tie between unseeded two-time Olympic champion Lin, fresh off his triumph in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday, against 2017 world champion Axelsen.

Singapore shuttler Yeo Jia Min is also targeting a strong run here.

She reached the second round last year and hopes to become the first Singaporean to make it to the quarter-finals in seven years.

The 20-year-old former world junior No. 1, who takes on Indonesia's Ruselli Hartawan, said: "I have had more time in the past year to work with my coach and new training styles. I hope to progress more this year."

The men's singles campaign of Singapore is over when Loh Kean Yew lost to Hong Kong's Lee Cheuk Yiu 21-16, 21-17 in the qualifiers yesterday.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 10, 2019, with the headline 'Christie promises to make Indonesia proud'. Print Edition | Subscribe