Ratchanok Intanon recorded one of her biggest career wins as she defeated Saina Nehwal in straight games to reach the final of the Yonex All England.
By Michael Burke, Badzine Correspondent, live from Birmingham. Photos: Yohan Nonotte for Badmintonphoto (live).
No stranger to success, 18-year-old Thai player Ratchanok Intanon (pictured left) will tomorrow play Tine Baun in her first Yonex All England final. At the most prestigious of tournaments, she has gone from strength to strength as eighth seed and has a very real chance to go all the way.
She more than held her own against Saina Nehwal (pictured below) as she was able to retrieve almost everything the Indian could send her way. She was able to pick her moments perfectly and with pinpoint placement of smashes and clears, she took 5 straight points and the first game 21-15.
A much closer second game saw Intanon’s defence come under a stern test, but as she continued to get everything back, her opponent Saina struggled to get through or cut back her own mistakes.
Holding a slight advantage at the mid game interval, the Thai was not able to get away from Saina until an error into the net let her go 19-17 up. Intanon showed nerves at the end, but held on well to finish 21-19, coming one step closer to levelling their head-to-head record.
“I feel happy. The first game I played really well. The last few rallies [in the second game] were really exciting,” Ratchanok said. “My attack was good. I had a good smash. Hopefully I can play well for Thailand. I have to pay thanks to my coaches who helped keep me calm.
“I think maybe Saina is injured. She was quite slow. It would have been much tougher if she moved better, but my body is stronger. I got very nervous towards the end, I was getting tired. When she missed at 18, I think it was the turning point.”
Having said repeatedly this tournament how she is just happy to still be here, she spoke to Rajes Paul of The Star (Malaysia) to say: “No, this is not a dream come true, the dream come true is when I win tomorrow in the final.”
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