Fajar Alfian and Muhammad Rian Ardianto then closed out the semifinal, ensuring Indonesia followed China into the Thomas Cup final – which will be the first title bout of the two traditional powerhouses in over a decade.
Christie was the X-factor that swung the tide Indonesia’s way. With the tie poised at one-all, and local lad Anders Antonsen the pre-match favourite in the second singles, Christie delivered a display that was breathtaking in execution for the most part. Antonsen matched him with his usual precise, solid self, and what unfolded was a high-quality contest, the best of the Thomas Cup so far. The match hinged on fine details, small windows of opportunity. Over the past few years Christie had struggled to rediscover the form that had helped him win the Asian Games in 2018, but today he showed the qualities that were needed to contain Antonsen.
Still, when Antonsen gained a 6-1 lead in the third, the momentum had shifted the Dane’s way. Christie hung in, stayed patient in the rallies, and unleashed his smash only when the opening was worked out. Towards the end, with the match going past 90 minutes, the Indonesian pushed Antonsen into the rallying game. With two flick serves on the last two points, Christie had pulled off the critical win for Indonesia.
“Hundred minutes, wow. I can’t explain any more,” said Christie. “In the third game he led 6-1, I just hoped to play my best and I could lead 11-10, so my motivation went up and I could get a point for Indonesia.
“Antonsen played very fast, he’s intelligent. I meant to slow the rhythm and I was going to rally, lob-chop, lob-chop, and he got cramps in the end, and that was my plan. The last good match I played was against Chen Long at the Asian Games and that was 90 minutes. Right now it’s 100 minutes, so that’s my new record.”
The first two matches had gone according to most expectations. Olympic champion Viktor Axelsen brooked no resistance from Anthony Sinisuka Ginting, while Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo pulled away in the third game against Kim Astrup and Anders Skaarup Rasmussen.
With Antonsen’s loss, Denmark had their backs to the wall as new pair Mathias Christiansen and Frederik Sogaard faced off against Alfian and Ardianto.
The Indonesians showed their customary touch at the front court, and picked apart the Danish challenge despite some nervous moments at the end.
“Christie’s win helped us get confident,” said Alfian. “We’d lost to Denmark in the Thomas Cup 2016 final in China, so we wanted to turn it around this time. We know China are defending champions, so we need to be careful in the final.”
Kento Momota won his high-stakes opening match against Shi Yu Qi after the Chinese retired complaining of an unspecified injury, but after China won a close contest in the men’s doubles, the defending champions were unstoppable.
Li Shi Feng, another of China’s young faces, stayed solid against the more experienced Kanta Tsuneyama, and then Liu Cheng/Wang Yi Lyu unleashed their big attack on Akira Koga/Taichi Saito.