The last time the BWF World Championships were held in Switzerland – in Lausanne, 1995 – it was the famous “100 Watt Smash” of Hariyanto Arbi that prevailed in men’s singles.
The hard-hitting Indonesian, who is still remembered by that moniker, swept to the title without dropping a game. However, at the start of the competition, Arbi felt his confidence drain out due to a demoralising loss in the Sudirman Cup final the previous week to China’s Sun Jun.
China had claimed their first title, beating favourites Indonesia 3-1, with Sun Jun outplaying Arbi in a three-game classic.
“Those days the Sudirman Cup and the World Championships were held together, so it was a big challenge for our stamina. These days they’re held separately, so it’s easier,” says Arbi, looking back at one of his finest victories.
“The pressure in the team event was so much higher. After losing to Sun Jun, my confidence dropped. But I thought, let me forget it, I’m no longer the favourite, so let me just enjoy the experience. I was looking forward to playing him and I wanted to get my revenge. Because the team loss had been a big blow, the target was for us to win the Sudirman Cup.”
However, Sun unexpectedly lost in the third round to Korea’s Ahn Jae Chang.
Arbi reveals he was far from confident on the eve of the final despite winning all his matches in straight games. He made his way past compatriot Joko Suprianto in the quarterfinals 15-8 15-7 and Poul-Erik Høyer in the semifinals, 15-10 15-7.
“After winning the semifinal, I felt my body was not up for it, so I felt greater pressure,” recalls Arbi. “I was ready to lose, I had accepted that I might lose, so I thought I will just go out there and do my best. My physical condition wasn’t at its best. I was tired before the final. In fact, I can’t remember if we even had a physio or masseur – probably not.”
Arbi took on Korea’s Park Sung Woo in the final and, despite his own apprehensions, the match turned out well for him.
“I had lost to him at the last Thomas Cup. I was nervous; I suppose that was better than being over-confident.”
Arbi is a frequent presence at the major tournaments in Jakarta.
“Of course I feel like going back on court when I see a competition like the Indonesia Open. It was physically harder in our time, as the scoring system was different.”
Arbi is all praise for the way the circuit, and particularly the World Championships, have evolved.
“The World Championships is so different compared to our time. The quality of play is getting better, the organising is better. It’s getting better and better.”