THAILAND OPEN 2012 QF – A good day for the home team

It was a good day for the Thai veterans and youngsters alike in Friday’s quarter-final round at the SCG Thailand Open, as all but one advanced to the semi-finals, where […]

It was a good day for the Thai veterans and youngsters alike in Friday’s quarter-final round at the SCG , as all but one advanced to the semi-finals, where all will face tough challenges on Saturday.

By Gerald Jew, Badzine Correspondent live in Bangkok.  Photos: Gerald Jew (live) and Badmintonphoto (archives).

Although China sent mostly lesser known “B” team players to this year’s Thailand Open with the one very major exception of the great Lin Dan, the Chinese team still was able to assert themselves by placing four doubles teams and four singles players across all five disciplines for Saturday’s semi-final round.

As well as China and Thailand, Denmark, Indonesia, India and Korea will also have a chance to be represented during Sunday’s finals.  Malaysia assured themselves a spot in Sunday’s finals, with two men’s doubles teams squaring off in Saturday’s semi-finals.  The men’s singles final, meanwhile, will have at least one Chinese representative, as two Chinese men’s singles players face off in the semis to earn a spot in the final round.

Women’s singles

Thailand’s top two women’s single’s players, Ratchanok Intanon (pictured right) and Porntip Buranaprasertsuk, the world’s eleventh and seventeenth ranked players respectively, both moved into Saturday’s semi-finals and will face tough challenges from the likes of India’s Saina Nehwal and China’s Wang Lin.

Intanon defeated Japan’s seventh-seeded Minatsu Mitani 21-14 and 21-19 and will face Lin on Saturday.  Asked about her match with Mitani, Intanon said, “I never played her before and was nervous before the match.  I watched her on YouTube last night to see how she plays, but was confident during the match that I could win.”

About Saturday’s match with Wang Lin, Intanon offered, “I am confident that I will do well, I played (and lost) to her before, but wasn’t 100% healthy the last time.  I feel confident now because I’m healthy, but have to play the big points well.  Maybe I will watch her on YouTube tonight”

Porntip Buranaprasertsuk (pictured left) beat another Japanese shuttler, 17-year-old Nozomi Okuhara, in three games.  After losing the first one, 13-21, Buranaprasertsuk came back to win the next two game by identical scores of 21-17.

When ask about her success at this year’s Open, she replied, “My target was to get to the semi-finals and I’m happy that I was able to make my target.”

Of Saturday’s match with the top-seeded Nehwal, Porntip said, “I’ve never beaten Saina before.  I don’t know how I will play her yet, but will do the best I can.”

Nehwal beat yet another young Thai shuttler, 2010 Youth Olympic gold medallist Sapsiree Taerattanachai, barely squeezing out a 22-20 win in the second game.

Former world number one Wang Lin continued her comeback from injuries, beating fellow countrywoman Sun Yu, 18-21, 21-13 and 21-12.

Men’s singles

China’s Chen Yuekun and Gao Huan will square off on Saturday to earn the right to face either Sony Dwi Kuncoro or Lin Dan on Sunday.  Yueken defeated India’s Sai Praneeth B.  21-15, 21-17, in Friday’s quarter-finals to move on to face compatriot Gao who defeated another Indian, 17-year-old Sameer Verma.

Gao Huan (pictured), who was the 2008 World Junior Championship runner-up and has hardly been heard from since, looked impressive in defeating Verma 21-16, 21-13 in a match that was more lopsided than the score would indicate.

Next up on the same court, Sameer’s older brother Sourabh Varma could not keep the family’s hopes alive as Dwi Kuncoro had an easy time moving into the semi-finals, pummelling the India Gold runner-up in a quick twenty-nine minute match, 21-6 and 21-8.

Kuncoro will be looking to do one better than his own runner-up finish, to world number one Lee Chong Wei in May at the Malaysia Grand Prix Gold.  To continue his Bangkok run, however, in Saturday’s semi-final, he will have to overcome the mighty Lin Dan, something he hasn’t done since their first meeting nine years ago.

Lin had a more difficult time moving into the semi-finals, but was able to overcome Chinese Taipei’s Chun Shih Kuei by scores of 22-20 and 21-17.  Lin, who seems to playing on cruise control at this year’s Open, was able to win the big points when he needed to, and take his expected place in the semi-finals.

Mixed doubles

Thailand’s second-seeded Sudket Prapakamol and Saralee Thoungthongkam (pictured) will face Singapore’s fourth-seeded Danny Bawa Chrisnanta and Yu Yan Vanessa Neo on Saturday for a place in the finals.

Sudket and Saralee defeated Chinese Taipei’s Huang Po Jui and Lai Chia Wen in thirty-four minutes, 21-14, 21-18 to move on.  Asked about their strategy in the match, Sudket said, “We tried to control the shuttle by hitting drops to try to create lifts for me to smash, and today it worked very well.”

Chrisnanta and Neo beat Indonesians Fadhilah Irfan and and Anggraini Weni in a fairly easy 21-11, 21-15, thirty minute match.

Denmark’s Joachim Fischer Nielsen and Christinna Pedersen, the top seeds, will face off against the unseeded Chinese pair of Tao Jiaming and Tang Jinhua in the other semi-final.

Men’s doubles

The Malaysian team assured themselves a spot in Sunday’s finals.  Malaysian’s Hoon Thien How and Tan Wee Kiong will be pitted against compatriots Mohd Fairuzizuan Mohd Tazari and Mohd Zakry Abdul Latif on Saturday.

Abdul Latif and Tazari defeated Korea’s Kang Ji Wook and Lee Sang Joon, 21-18, 21-14.  Hoon and Tan advanced by beating the fifth-seeded Japanese duo of Yoshiteru Hirobe and Kenta Kazuno in a twenty-eight minute, 21-18, 21-15 win.

The other men’s doubles semi-final will see China’s top-seeded Liu Xiaolong / Qiu Zihan (pictured) against Asian Champions Kim Ki Jung and Kim Sa Rang.

Women’s doubles

Thailand will be hoping to place two teams into Sunday’s women’s doubles finals.  Kunchala Voravichitchaikul and Duanganong Aroonkesorn, the sixth seeds, defeated Imawan Gebby Ristyani and Nuraidah Tiara Rosalia 21-18, 24-22.  They will face China’s Cheng Shu and Pan Pan in one of Saturday’s semi-final matches.

The other Thai team of thirty-two-year-old Saralee Thoungthongkam and sixteen-year-old Narissapat Lam move on to play number one seeds, Xia Huan and Tang Jinhua of China.

Narissapat Lam (pictured), the sixteen year old schoolgirl who has been playing with the veteran Thoungthongkam since late last year, was elated to make it this far in the tournament.  “I’m so excited to make it this far.  It’s the furthest I’ve made it in any big tournament.  I’m only sixteen, half the age of Saralee and I’m just looking to improve.”

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