THAILAND OPEN 2015 SF – Big Upset in Bangkok

Favoured to retain her title at her home event, the Thailand Open, Ratchanok Intanon was instead sent packing by Singapore’s 19-year-old Liang Xiaoyu who played the match of her life […]

Favoured to retain her title at her home event, the , Ratchanok Intanon was instead sent packing by Singapore’s 19-year-old Liang Xiaoyu who played the match of her life to advance to Sunday’s final.

Story and photos by Gerald Jew, Badzine Correspondent live in Bangkok

Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon, the top-seed in the women’s singles at the SCG Thailand Open 2015, was facing the relatively unknown and unseeded 19-year-old Liang Xiaoyu (pictured) of Singapore.  Intanon was expected to cruise into the finals on Saturday in Bangkok, leaving Liang to be content with having appeared in her first ever semi-final, but instead the teenager played the match of her life to advance to Sunday’s final.

Liang, the world’s 120th ranked women’s singles shuttler, had advanced to the semi-final round without having to face a single seeded player.  That all changed on Saturday when she was matched against hometown favourite Intanon and thousands of partisan Thai fans.

Liang showed off a deft touch at the net, plenty of disguise and just enough smashing to earn the right to face Korea’s Sung Ji Hyun in the finals on Sunday.  With the score tied at 17-all in the decisive third game, Liang rattled off the final four points to take the match.

“When I win I feel very happy,” Liang said after the match.  “I’ve played Ratchanok two or three times before and lost each time.  I try not to think too much, just play my best and keep the shuttle in the court.”

About Sunday’s final, Liang added, “I’ve never played her (Sung) before.  I know she is a very good player and has been playing very well.  I’m just happy I have the chance to play with her and other top players.”

Sung, the second seed, will look to win her second title in fifteen days, having won the recent Korea Open Superseries tournament two weeks ago Sunday.  She moved into the finals by defeating 3rd seeded Sun Yu of China, thus adding her name to the short but growing list players who have scored at least one victory over each of China’s top players.

The men’s singles saw wily veteran, Lee Hyun Il take one of the men’s finals spots, and he will face Indonesia’s Ihsan Maulana Mustofa (pictured right), who made quite an impression while preventing an all-Korean final, beating Jeon Hyeok Jin in straight games.

After being stopped on three occasions in the last year by three different Korean players, Mustofa has now beaten two of their best, having first beaten world #10 Son Wan Ho in the quarter-finals.  The final against the former world #1 will be the first rematch of the week, however, as he lost to Lee Hyun Il (pictured) at the Malaysia International Challenge last autumn.

Regarding his defeat of Indonesia’s Dionysius Hayom Rumbaka, Lee said, “I know how he plays, we’ve played before, and I tried not to let him play his game.  I tried to play faster and control the speed of the game, and I think I was able to do that.”

In the men’s doubles, another former world #1 entry, Koo Kien Keat and Tan Boong Heong (pictured below) of Malaysia, beat Indonesia’s 2nd-seeded Angga Pratama and Ricky Karanda Suwardi in a three-game affair.  They will face-off against Indonesians Wahyu Nayaka Arya Pankaryanira and Ade Yusuf on Sunday.

Returning to playing full-time again with Tan, Koo said, “We’re just enjoying the game.  We’re not too worried about winning.  We just want to enjoy the game and have fun.  Of course we want to win and take each point at a time, but enjoying ourselves is more important now.”

The men’s doubles is the only discipline without a Korean finalist.  In the semis of the two other doubles events, underdogs upset the top Korean pair but must now face newer combinations from the same team.

China’s Li Yinhui will be the youngest finalist on the day.  The 18-year-old Asian Junior Champion reached the final in her first ever appearance with U.S. Open mixed champion Huang Dongping.  They beat Go Ah Ra / Yoo Hae Won but now must face Korea Open runners-up Jang Ye Na / Lee So Hee (pictured bottom) in the final, after the latter saw off reigning World Junior Champions Chen/Jia in the other semi-final.

Finals line-up
WD: Jang Ye Na / Lee So Hee (KOR) vs. Huang Dongping / Li Yinhui (CHN)
WS: Sung Ji Hyun [2] (KOR) vs. Liang Xiaoyu (SIN)
MD: Wahyu Nayaka Arya Pankaryanira / Ade Yusuf (INA) [5] vs. Koo Kien Keat / Tan Boon Heong (MAS)
XD: Praveen Jordan / Debby Susanto (INA) [3] vs. Choi Sol Gyu / Eom Hye Won (KOR)
MS: Lee Hyun Il (KOR) [4] vs. Ihsan Maulana Mustofa (INA)

Click here for complete semi-final results

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