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Ratchanok targets semis place at All England Open

Ratchanok targets semis place at All England Open

BADMINTON: Ratchanok Intanon will lead the Thai challenge at the All England Open, which begins today (Mar 17) in Birmingham.

Badminton
By Bangkok Post

Wednesday 17 March 2021, 10:45AM


Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon is seeded fourth at the All England Open. Photo: Bangkok Post.

Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon is seeded fourth at the All England Open. Photo: Bangkok Post.

With the absence of in-form mixed doubles duo Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai, Ratchanok, seeded fourth in the women’s singles, is seen as Thailand’s best hope in the prestigious tournament.

Dechapol and Sapsiree, who were runners-up in Birmingham last year, claimed a hat-trick of titles in three big tournaments in Bangkok in January.

The All England Open is not part of the Olympic qualifying events and the pair said they wanted to focus on tournaments which offer points for Tokyo 2020 spots.

Ratchanok, who has lost in the All England Open final twice, aims to reach the semi-finals this week.

The 26-year-old had unconvincing results in the Bangkok tournaments but that could be a boon for her.

“Playing in the three tournaments, I saw my weaknesses,” said Ratchanok.

“I have been trying to improve.”

She will begin her campaign in Birmingham against world No.55 Kristin Kuuba.

“I will try to play my game,” Ratchanok said.

“My target for this tournament is to reach at least the semi-finals.”

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Sixth seed Pornpawee Chochuwong, who secured a sensational win over Ratchanok in Bangkok, will take on world No.60 Ksenia Polikarpova of Israel.

Top seed Carolina Marin has pulled out citing an injury she suffered at the recent Swiss Open.

Her withdrawal opens up the top half of the draw for third seed Akane Yamaguchi of Japan, Zhang Beiwen of the US, Pornpawee and India’s Pusarla V Sindhu.

Yamaguchi’s last international event was at this event last year, and it will be interesting to see if the Japanese can find her former level this week.

Her compatriot Nozomi Okuhara heads the lower half of the draw and will look to make the quarter-finals, where she is likely to run into Ratchanok or Mia Blichfeldt of Denmark.

In the men’s singles, the enticing prospect of a Kento Momota v Viktor Axelsen showdown is in the air at the 111th edition of the world’s oldest badminton tournament.

Japan’s Momota has a 14-1 record against the Dane, but if they do clash this year, the terms of the engagement will be different.

Momota hasn’t played an international match since winning the Malaysia Masters in January 2020.

Axelsen, in the meantime, went from strength to strength.

He won his first All England title last year and has been almost unstoppable so far this year, winning 23 of his last 24 matches and capturing the Yonext Thailand Open, the Toyota Thailand Open and the Swiss Open.

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