THAILAND OPEN Finals –Ratchanok dissappoints, Chou delights the Thai fans

Thai women’s singles star Ratchanok Intanon failed to bring home the winner’s trophy, much to the dismay of the partisan Thai fans, but Chinese Taipei’s Chou Tien Chen helped to […]

Thai women’s singles star Ratchanok Intanon failed to bring home the winner’s trophy, much to the dismay of the partisan Thai fans, but Chinese Taipei’s Chou Tien Chen helped to lessen the disappointment with an exciting come-from behind-win that had the Huamark Indoor Stadium rocking.

By Gerald Jew, Badzine Correspondent live in Bangkok.  Photos: Yves Lacroix / Badmintonphoto (live)

The was upgraded last year from a Grand Prix Gold – which it was throughout the era – to a .  With the increased prestige and prize money, however, has come an added challenge for Thai shuttlers to title at their home event.

In those 11 years, Thailand never took more than one title in a year but on 3 occasions, starting when she was 17 years old, Ratchanok Intanon (pictured right) contested the final and on 2 occasions, she won.  Last year, there were 3 Thai semi-finalists but no Thais in the final and Ratchanok had had to pull out before the tournament began.

In Sunday’s women’s singles, it was China’s Chen Yufei (pictured top) who lived up to her top-seeding to win her first Thailand Open title, defeating the 6th-seeded Ratchanok Intanon, in a two-game match.

After trailing for much of the first game, Chen was able forge ahead 17-16, fight off an Intanon challenge at 20-all, and win the game 22-20. Chen then closed out the match by winning the second game, 21-18.

Intanon, who now has a 2-9 record against Chen, was asked why she has such a difficult time against the world’s 4th ranked Chen: “It is not easy for me in the final and I know that she always plays a calm game with me, and sometimes I try to play with more speed and sometimes also play many unforced errors.

“When I feel mistakes, I try to push more, sometimes I cannot control, I just try to play my best and try to enjoy the game, but I don’t feel happy with my performance today, but it’s okay.  It’s not my day.  Next time I will try to do my best.”

Asked if she feels she will be the favourite going into the upcoming World Championships and how she feels physically, Chen replied, “Winning this championship gives me more confidence in my upcoming matches.  I played three consecutive tournaments so it drains my body, I’m probably not at my physical best at the moment.”

Earlier in the afternoon, the 3rd seeded Chou Tien Chen – who became the men’s singles favourite after the withdrawals of Japan’s top-seeded Kento Momota and China’s 2nd seeded Shi Yuqi – staged a furious comeback from four match points down to defeat Hong Kong’s unseeded Ng Ka Long Angus.

Chou convincingly won the first game 21-14, before Ng took control of the second game 21-11, which set up the dramatic rubber game that delighted the Thai fans in attendance.  Ng held the lead for most of the early and middle stages of the 3rd game, until Chou was finally able to tie the game at 14-all.

Ng then asserted himself to gain four match points at 20-16, that set the stage for Chou’s comeback. After aggressively levelling the game at 20-all, Chou, brimming with confidence, won three of the next four points to take the match 23-21.

Chou said about the comeback, “I just think my attitude needed to be good, I just wanted to show everybody that I can win the match, that I can win everybody’s heart. Not everyone can win, I just want to win and be happy. My heart is stronger than before, so I’m really happy to do that because when you go to the Olympics everybody needs to do their best for their ranking. I need to do my best as well.”

When asked about losing the 2nd game, Chou said, “Angus pushed me.  He didn’t play the first game like the draw and card, he really moved me around in the second game, so it was difficult to play, difficult to focus on the court, so I made many mistakes. In the third game, I needed to change my mind, I needed to do my best to push him so that’s all I can do. I just do that, I’m very happy to do that.”

China was the only team that left the hall with two titles on the day.  Their first came courtesy of Wang Yilyu and Huang Dongping. The world #2 mixed doubles pair won their second title in as many weeks, beating Yuta Watanabe and Arisa Higashino in a pair of excruciatingly close games.

The Chinese players were the more consistent in the crunch sections of both games and extended their head-to-head advantage over the Japanese pair to 8 wins and just one loss.  The last time the Japanese pair beat Wang and Huang was also the last time the two pairs met in a final, at the 2018 Hong Kong Open.

Final results:
WD:  Shiho Tanaka / Koharu Yonemoto (JPN) [7] beat Du Yue / Li Yinhui (CHN) [8]  21-19, 14-21, 21-13
MD:  Satwiksairaj Rankireddy / Chirag Shetty (IND) beat Li Junhui / Liu Yuchen (CHN) [3]  21-19, 18-21, 21-18
MS:  Chou Tien Chen (TPE) [3] beat Ng Ka Long (HKG)  21-14, 11-21, 23-21
XD:  Wang Yilyu / Huang Dongping (CHN) [2] beat Yuta Watanabe / Arisa Higashino (JPN) [3]  24-22, 23-21
WS:  Chen Yufei (CHN) [1] beat Ratchanok Intanon (THA) [6]  22-20, 21-18

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