THAILAND OPEN R16 – Srikanth, Lin Dan out in 2nd round

2008 Thailand Open champion Lin Dan lost out to Shesar Hiren Rhustavito while 2013 winner Srikanth Kidambi fell to local hopeful Khosit Phetpradab on Day 3 of the Thailand Open […]

2008 champion Lin Dan lost out to Shesar Hiren Rhustavito while 2013 winner Srikanth Kidambi fell to local hopeful Khosit Phetpradab on Day 3 of the in Bangkok.

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

Two 25-year-olds who are struggling to make a name for themselves came up with the biggest upsets so far in the men’s singles draw at the 2019 Thailand Open.  For both Khosit Phetpradab (pictured) of Thailand and Indonesian Shesar Hiren Rhustavito, the Vietnam Open was their first major title and neither has yet topped the podium at a bigger tournament than that but both are hoping the 2019 Thailand Open will be that first title.

That is especially true of Phetpradab, who is now the last remaining Thai player in men’s singles, after the events last two champions saw off his two higher-ranked compatriots.  The Thai crowd had made itself heard even during Wednesday’s first round matches but with Phetpradab being the first local player to pull off an actual upset, the decibel-level went up that much more.

Phetpradab dropped his first game against world #1 and 2013 Thailand Open winner Srikanth Kidambi (pictured left), but he fought back to take the next two games.  Srikanth was visibly running out of ideas – and line call challenges – as his Thai opponent stayed consistent and kept on putting on the pressure.

“The first time I played Srikanth, I couldn’t move, I was too slow,” said Khosit Phetpradab after the match, “so this time, I worked hard to move faster on court than I did the last time.

“I always try my best at every tournament but the best result will be this time at my home tournament.  I feel much more comfortable playing in Thailand and hearing the Thai crowd, I really felt the support and wanted to play well.”

With his opponent not yet decided for the quarter-final, Phetpradab stated that his preference would be to face Wang Tzu Wei of Chinese Taipei, as Ng Ka Long beat him last week at the Japan Open.  By contrast, he has won his last three encoutners with Wang.  Alas, he was not to get his wish, however, as Ng came through that match in straight games.

Lin Dan out in 1st round for the 5th time this year

If a legendary player is going to lose early in a tournament he seldom enters, the least he can do is lose to a local hero.  However, two-time Olympic gold medallist Lin Dan (pictured below) did not get the chance to be upset by a Thai player as his Wednesday opponent, Suppanyu Avihingsanon had to retire injured partway through their second game.

Instead, it was left to Shesar Hiren Rhustavito (pictured right) to send the great man packing.  This meant that only Indonesian players have managed to beat Lin Dan in Thailand.  He played the Open twice before, winning it in 2008 and losing the final to Sony Dwi Kuncoro in 2012.  Last year, when Lin Dan was in Bangkok for the Thomas Cup finals, he played only two matches against much lower-ranked players.

“The fact that I am able to win some Super 100 tournaments gives me the confidence I need to come here and win matches in a bigger tournament like this, even against an opponent like Lin Dan,” said Rhustavito after his victory.

“Of course, I felt nervous playing against Lin Dan but by the middle of the second game, I was no longer nervous.  I could relax and enjoy playing my game.

“Lin Dan was my idol growing up – him and Taufik Hidayat – so I’m very happy that I can beat my idol.  Lin Dan has very good fighting spirit and I try to emulate that.  I think my playing style is more similar to Lin Dan because Taufik played a more offensive, attacking game.”

Lee Zii Jia will be Shesar Hiren Rhustavito’s opponent at the quarter-final stage.  The Malaysian dominated Indonesia’s Tommy Sugiarto 21-18 in their deciding game.

“The first game, I won more easily,” said Lee Zii Jia (pictured right) after his match, “so maybe the wind is quite different between the two courts.  In the third game, the coach gave me some good tactics and that was very useful for me so I won the third game easily.

“It was my first time playing against Tommy and so far I am satisfied with my performance.  Tomorrow also will be a tough match against the Indonesian.  It’s not easy to play against him so I hope I will prepare well.”

Lee, who won the Chinese Taipei Open last autumn, insisted that it is confidence, moreso than pressure, that he has reaped from successes such as that Super 300 title last year: “Of course, there will be pressure on me as a Malaysian, if people want to think I am ‘the next Lee Chong Wei’ or something, but for me, I don’t care even if they want to say that.  For me, I want to make my own story.”

The day ended with a couple of minor upsets in women’s singles, with Sayaka Takahashi beating Saina Nehwal and Pornpawee Chochuwong (pictured left) scoring her first victory over Sung Ji Hyun, who had beaten the Thai 3 times, including last week at the Japan Open.

Then in mixed doubles, two seeded pairs went down in the last few matches.  Seo Seung Jae and Chae Yoo Jung (pictured below) got the better of Jordan/Oktavianti.  Seo and Chae had lost in the opening round of 3 of the 4 tournaments they’ve played since their back-to-back titles in Europe this past winter.

“We started the year well but then both Seung Jae and I had injury problems,” explained Chae Yoo Jung.  “Because of that, our teamwork suffered a little.  Now, we have been honing our skills and we’ve worked on our teamwork and I think matches like this are the result.”

“Of course Jordan is a strong, attacking player so if it happens that we have to lift it, we will always be at risk,” said Seo Seung Jae.  “His partner has good control but she doesn’t move that fast so we tried to make sure we took the shuttle high and kept it going down to create attacking opportunities and it seems to work well and we were able to score a lot of points.”

“We do feel more confident now that we are back in a quarter-final but to be honest, when we are facing such amazing players as Wang and Huang, it’s going to be tough and we really need to do our best,” added Chae.

Click here for complete Thursday results

Don Hearn

About Don Hearn

Don Hearn is an Editor and Correspondent who hails from a badminton-loving town in rural Canada. He joined the Badzine team in 2006 to provide coverage of the Korean badminton scene and is committed to helping Badzine to promote badminton to the place it deserves as a global sport. Contact him at: don @ badzine.net