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Ratchanok smashes idol Nehwal

Ratchanok smashes idol Nehwal

BADMINTON: Home hopes Ratchanok Intanon and mixed doubles pair Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai got off to winning starts at the Toyota Thailand Open yesterday (Jan 19).

By Bangkok Post

Wednesday 20 January 2021, 10:23AM

Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon in action against India’s Saina Nehwal at Muang Thong Thani yesterday (Jan 19). Photo: Bangkok Post.

Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon in action against India’s Saina Nehwal at Muang Thong Thani yesterday (Jan 19). Photo: Bangkok Post.

In a battle of two former top-ranked players, fourth seed Ratchanok comfortably beat India’s Saina Nehwal 21-17, 21-8 in just 32 minutes in the women’s singles first round at Impact Arena, Muang Thong Thani.

“In the beginning, I felt there was a bit of pressure on me. I’ve played Saina before and lost a few times and so I’ve learnt from those experiences,” said Ratchanok.

“Saina is one of the players I try to copy. She’s fast and has good fighting spirit inside her. I think I was able to play how I wanted today.”

The 25-year-old will next face Sung Ji-Hyun of South Korea.

Ratchanok is trying to bounce back from her disappointing run at last week’s Yonex Thailand Open where she crashed out in the quarter-finals.

In another Thai v Indian match in the US$1 million (B30mn) tournament, local star Busanan Ongbamrungphan was beaten by sixth seed Pusarla V Sindhu 21-17, 21-13.

“It was a good game and I’m very, very happy. This win was very important for me in this tournament because at last week’s tournament, I went out in the first round. So this win today was important, because even though in the first game it was tight, I didn’t want to make it easy,” said Sindhu.

Top seed Tai Tzu-ying had few problems in her 21-16, 21-11 win over Thailand’s Supanida Katethong.

“I had a day off yesterday, so I think because of that I was okay on court today. I am feeling a little better than last week,” said the Taiwanese, who lost to Spain’s Carolina Marin in the final of the Yonex Thailand Open.

Eighth-seeded Michelle Li of Canada defeated Hong Kong’s Cheung Ngan Yi 21-16, 16-21, 21-19.

The Toyota Thailand Open is the second of three tournaments in the Asian leg in Bangkok after last week’s Yonex Thailand Open.

The 2020 season will conclude at next week’s $1.5 million HSBC BWF World Tour Finals.

The Asian leg is being held at Muang Thong’s Impact Arena without spectators and under strict COVID-19 protocols.

In the mixed doubles first round yesterday, top seeds Dechapol and Sapsiree, Thailand’s only champions last week, defeated Dutch duo Robin Tabeling and Selena Piek 21-14, 21-19.

“Overall, it was okay,” Sapsiree said.

“In the second game, we made some mistakes and lost a bit of focus but we stepped up and fought back to seal the win.”

Dechapol added: “The speed of the shuttle was different today and we had to adapt to that and we were able to do that quickly because we played in the same venue as last week.”

In the men’s singles first round, third seed Anders Antonsen breezed past Thailand’s Tanonqsak Saensomboonsuk 21-8, 21-8.

“I was focused throughout the match and the days leading up the match too - way more focused than last week. I played a solid game, and whatever he [Tanongsak] tried to do, I had an answer for it,” said the Dane.

India’s Sameer Verma stunned eighth seed Lee Zii Jia of Malaysia 18-21, 27-25, 21-19.

He came from 17-6 down in the second game to take a place in the second round.

“In the second game my ankle was hurting a bit,” Verma said. “It was all about my mind. I think this will give me confidence for the rest of the tournament.”

The event ends on Sunday.

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