THAILAND OPEN 2012 SF – Two Lins out, three Thais in

The semi-final round at the SGC Thailand Open in Bangkok saw two famous Chinese Lins go down to defeat on Saturday.  Current World Champion Lin Dan was shown the exit […]

The semi-final round at the SGC in Bangkok saw two famous Chinese Lins go down to defeat on Saturday.  Current World Champion Lin Dan was shown the exit door by Indonesia’s Sony Dwi Kuncoro.  Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon, looking to become the first Thai woman to win the Thailand Open, took out the former World Champion Wang Lin, to reach the championship round on Sunday.

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

Thai badminton fans, like fans around the world, love their home-grown stars, but many of the fans at this year’s Thailand Open came out to get a glimpse of badminton’s biggest star, Lin Dan, in action.  Unfortunately for the fans that were waiting until Sunday to attend, they won’t see Lin on the court during Sunday’s final round.

Men’s singles

Sony Dwi Kuncoro (pictured left) was once ranked as high as third in world, but because of injuries, has seen his fall to number sixty-five in the current men’s rankings.  However, he proved that he’s healthy and ready to ascend the rankings ladder again when he took Lin out of tournament with a convincing 21-17, 21-16 win.

Lin, who before the tournament began complained of fatigue from his recent Thomas Cup play and of not being used to the Bangkok heat and humidity, had one more excuse for his defeat.  When asked after his defeat what he felt was the reason for his loss, he replied curtly, “The lights.”

The lights did seem to bother Lin (and others), as he frequently looked up at the lights after smashes that missed their mark.  To his credit, he also commented, “Kuncoro was the better player today.”

Both games saw numerous lead changes between the two players, but Dwi Kuncoro was able to pull away towards the end of each game to take the match and gain himself a place in Sunday’s final against China’s Chen Yuekun (pictured right).

Chen, the world’s 158th ranked player, defeated fellow Chinese shuttler Gao Huan 21-14, 21-15 in a thirty-eight minute affair that was rarely in doubt.

Women’s singles

The women’s singles will be the one discipline that will not involve a Chinese shuttler on Sunday.  Thailand’s reigning queen of badminton, Ratchanok Intanon assured that at least this one title would not go home with the Chinese, by defeating Wang Lin (pictured) by scores of 21-13 and 21-19.

The first game was evenly fought early, but after a 7-7 tie, Intanon asserted herself and took command of the game to win easily.  The second game was a see-saw battle that eventually was tied at 19 before Intanon captured the next two points, and the match.

Intanon, whose nickname is May, and who sometimes likes to study her opponents on YouTube the night before matches, admitted, “I didn’t watch Wang [on YouTube] last night, I didn’t want to think about the match [too much].”

About Sunday’s final against Nehwal, Intanon said “I’ve played her three times before and lost twice, but I’m very excited about playing in the final, for myself and my country.  I think I’ll do well.”

Intanon’s team-mate, Porntip Buranaprasertsuk didn’t do nearly as well, as she fell to the world number five from India, Saina Nehwal.  Porntip took an early lead and appeared to be heading for a first game win before Nehwal came storming back to tie the game at 16-all.  From that point, the lead went back and forth between the two players, with Nehwal fighting off three game points before finally capturing the game, 24-22.

Nehwal earned her spot in the final against Intanon by taking the second game that was never in doubt since an early 2-all tie.  She closed it out 21-11.

Mixed doubles

The mixed doubles saw the last remaining Europeans left in the field, number one seeds Joachim Fischer Nielsen and Christinna Pedersen, lose to China’s Tao Jiaming and Tang Jinhua, 21-16 and 21-17 in a thirty-eight minute affair.

Tao and Tang will square off against the veteran, second-seeded Thai team of Sudket Prapakamol and Saralee Thoungthongkam (pictured right), who defeated Danny Bawa Chrisnanta and Yu Yan Vanessa Neo of Singapore, 21-13 and 22-20.

Thoungthongkam, who is also still competing in the women’s doubles discipline, played her seventh and eighth matches of the tournament on Saturday and was beginning to feel the effects.

Sudket commented after their win, “We played the standard doubles strategy of trying to hit down and create lifts for us to smash, and it worked well for us today.  Saralee is quite tired, and she needs to relax, stretch and have a massage before and after each match.”

Sudket, who also competed in the men’s doubles but lost in the first round, added, “I’m feeling good, and I’m looking forward to competing in tomorrow’s final.”

Men’s doubles

Malaysia’s Mohd Zakry Abdul Latif and Mohd Fairuzizuan Mohd Tazari (pictured) beat fellow Malaysians Hoon Thien How and Tan Wee Kiong to earn the right to compete for the gold medal on Sunday.  The elder Malaysians, who live in Kuala Lumpur and train at the KLRC Racquet Club, won by scores of 22-20 and 21-15 in a forty-minute match on Saturday.

Abdul Latif and Tazari will face the top-seeded duo of Liu Xiaolong and Qui Zihan of China.  Liu and Qiu beat, Kim Ki Jung and and Kim Sa Rang, 25-23 and 21-15, recording their first win over the two Kims, who have been causing all kinds of trouble for Chinese veterans and youngsters alike over the past year and a half.

Asked about their chances in Sunday’s finals, Tazari said, “The Chinese team is about power and speed, if we can control the speed, we can win.  The Chinese pair is not that stable, we are confident.”

Women’s Doubles

China’s Cheng Shu and Pan Pan, the Open’s fifth-seeded team moved onto Sunday’s final with a 21-15, 21-17 victory over Thailand’s sixth-seeded Duanganong Aroonkesorn and Kunchala Voravichitchaikul.

Thailand will still be represented in the finals though, as the unseeded pair of sixteen-year-old Narissapat Lam (pictured right) and the thirty-two-year-old Thoungthongkam sent the highly partisan Thai fans in attendance home happy after winning the last match of the day.

Narissapat and Thoungthongkam upset the top-seeded Chinese team of Xia Huan and Tang Jinhua, 21-15 and 22-20.  In the second game, the Thai pair fought off one game point at 19-20, before taking the next three points to snatch the victory.

A still excited Narissapat said after the match, “The win was more than I expected.  I just tried to play my best.  I didn’t think we could win.”

The final round action resumes on Sunday at noon in the Thai capital, and Badzine will be on hand to bring you live coverage of the event.

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