THAILAND OPEN 2013 QF – Europe makes an impression

The hometown fans had plenty to cheer about on Friday at the 2013 SCG Thailand Open, as 4 local favourites moved into Saturday’s singles semi-finals, but it was a men’s […]

The hometown fans had plenty to cheer about on Friday at the 2013 SCG , as 4 local favourites moved into Saturday’s singles semi-finals, but it was a men’s doubles match between Korea and England that worked the fans into a frenzy and provided the most excitement of the day.

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

England’s 8th seeded Chris Langridge and and Peter Mills (pictured) defeated Korea’s Kang Ji Wook and Lee Sang Joon in a well-played and exciting three-game match that saw the English pair finally capture the match 29-27 in a wild third game that saw the game tied fourteen times with a whopping total of 13 match points for both sides combined.

Fellow Brits Chris Adcock and Andrew Ellis, the 7th seeds, will also play on Saturday, as they earned their place in the semi-final round by defeating 3rd-seeded Marcus Kido and Alvent Yulianto Chandra.  They will face Korea’s Shin Baek Cheol and Yoo Yeon Seong, who took down the top-seeed Malayasian pair of Mohd Zakry Abdul Latif and Mohd Fairuzizuan Mohd Tazari.

Langridge and Mills will face the 2nd seeded team Russian team of Vladmir Ivanov and Ivan Sozonov (pictured) for a spot in Sunday’s finals.  Ivanov and Sozonov beat Thailand’s Maneepong Jongjit and Nipitphon Puangpuapech in the last match of the night, eliminating Thailand’s last threat in the discipline and leaving Shin/Yoo the only Asian pair, surrounded by Europeans.

Singapore’s 8th seeded Gu Juan (pictured below) surprised defending champion and top seed Saina Nehwal on a day that saw three number one seeded players and teams go down in defeat.  Nehwal, who looked strong in her first three matches of the tournament, took the first game and looked to be on cruise control, but Gu came back strong in the next two games to take the match.

After the match, Gu said, “I’ve played her twice before and lost twice.  She’s number two in the world, so I was very nervous in the first game and just tried to do my best.  In the second game, she seemed to slow down, so I just tried to be patient, relax and move her around as much as I could.”

Ratchanok Intanon beat team-mate Nichaon Jindapon and will face U.S. Open champion Pai Hsaio Ma of Chinese Taipei in the semi-finals, and Busanan Ongbamrungphan defeated doubles partner Porntip Buranaprasertsuk to earn the right to face Gu on Saturday.  Intanon and Ongbamrungphan are both seeking to become the first Thai shuttler to win the women’s singles at the Thailand Open.

In men’s singles, 17-year-old Thammasin Sitthikom continued his strong showing by defeating Chinese Taipei’s 7th seeded Hsu Jen Hao to advance to the weekend.  Sitthikom, who trains and attends school at the SCG Sports Academy in Bangkok, looks to be Thailand’s brightest hope for men’s singles success in the future.

“I didn’t expect to get this far.  This is the best I’ve played in a tournament this big, but my wins have given me confidence to play well in this tournament and in future tournaments.  I will play in the World Junior Championships later this year in Bangkok and this helps my confidence a lot,” Sitthikom said after his win.

Number one seeded Boonsak Ponsana (pictured right, with Sitthikom) defeated England’s 8th seeded Rajiv Ouseph in a three-game match that saw Ponsana blow a big lead behind a furious comeback by Ouseph in the second game.  In the third game, Ouseph and Ponsana played evenly early, until Ponsana took control after the mid-game interval and won the match by scores of 21-15, 21-23 and 21-12.

India’s Srikanth K.  was the one who finally put an end to the comeback campaign of Korea’s Son Wan Ho, who is playing in his first tournament since the London Olymics.  Srikanth will face Sitthikom on Saturday, while Ponsana will face off against Indonesia’s Wisnu Yuli Prasetyo, who defeated India’s Prannoy H.  S.

In women’s doubles, the recently formed team of Greysia Polii and Maheswari beat the top-seeded Thai pair of Kunchala Voravichitchaikul and Duanganong Aroonkesorn, 21-17 and 21-13 in what looks like a wise decision by the Indonesian coaches to pair the two Indonesian shuttlers together.

“We just play the best we can.  I’ve played them a couple of times so we knew their weaknesses.  We did have a plan against them although our coach won’t let me tell our strategy, but we didn’t target any one player.  Tomorrow will be tough.  We’ve played against one of the Korean girls before, but we’ll just do our best.  We’ve played well together, so I think we’ll stay together for a while, but that’s up to the coaches,” Polii said after the match.

The Korean duo that the Indonesian pair will face, Ko A Ra and Yoo Hae Won (pictured), made their way to the semi-finals by defeating Korea’s top junior pair, Chae Yoo Jung and Kim Ji Won.  Buranaprasertsuk and Ongbamrungphan teamed up to defeat Thai team-mates Puttita Supajirakul and Sapsiree Taerattanachai, and will face the Japanese pair of Yuriko Miki and Koharu Yonemoto, who sent Indonesians Suci Rizky Andini and Jenna Gozali home on Friday.

The 2nd-seeded team of Markis Kido and Pia Zebadiah Bernadeth, 4th seeded Indonesian teammates Riky Widianto and Puspita Richi Dili, Takeshi Kamura and Yonemoto of Japan, and Chinese Taipei’s Tseng Min Hao and Cheng Wen Hsing will all compete for spots in Sunday’s final round in the mixed doubles.

Click here for complete quarter-final results

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