KOREA OPEN 2011 Day 2 – Wang stays ahead

Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand did all she could in her Korea Open opener but has yet to find the Wang-beating formula. By Don Hearn, Badzine Correspondent live in Seoul.  Photos: […]

Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand did all she could in her opener but has yet to find the Wang-beating formula.

By Don Hearn, Badzine Correspondent live in Seoul.  Photos: Yves Lacroix for Badmintonphoto

This past fall, 15-year-old Thai sensation Ratchanok Intanon (pictured) lost her first Super Series showdown to Lu Lan but then made up for it with a victory over the  Chinese veteran on the latter’s home ground 2 months later.  Early this afternoon, she looked set to do the same with Wang Yihan, exactly one week after going down to Chinese star, who has since regained the world #1 spot she held for most of last year.

Though this is Wang Yihan’s first Korea Open, she is no stranger to the peninsula.  In 2004, she reached the Asian Junior semi-final at 16 then returned two years later to take the World Junior title in Incheon.  Her opponent today, of course, has done her one better in the junior title department but still has a way to go before she will be lighting up the Super Series circuit.

Wang Yihan (pictured) got off to a strong start, as expected, but the young Thai would not let her run away with the match, reeling in the Chinese player again and again, until Wang finally pulled away from the 18-all tie to close out the first game.

Ratchanok continued to challenge in the second game, showing remarkable defense and court coverage, along with a few surprise attacks, but came up short in the end as Wang took the match 21-18, 21-17.

“This was my second time playing against Wang Yihan and I lost to her last week so what I did this time was focus on playing my best and trying to at least make it difficult for her to beat me,” explained Ratchanok after the match.

The young Thai is coping very well with her new-found success as well as her fame.  On court, she is the picture of grace, smiling equally broadly whether she is winning or fallen behind, and bowing in a wai to her opponent and even the service judge when given a new shuttle.

“There has been a lot more pressure recently but I like the pressure.  It is going to be more difficult from now on, though, since I am playing in the Super Series but my coach thinks I should play about 10 of the 12 this year.

“I have played in Korea a few times now but I think I am starting to get used to the supercool conditions, but it is always a big change because in Thailand it is so hot.

“This year, I hope to win another title.  A Super Series would be nice but very difficult so even a Grand Prix or Grand Prix Gold would be okay.  I still hope to go back to defend my World Junior title but maybe I can only try one more time because Olympic qualifying could get in the way.”

An Olympics before age 18 may seem like aiming high but for everyone who has seen this youngster play, it is exactly what we expect.

For complete results from Day 2 of the 2011 Victor Korea Open Premier Super Series, CLICK HERE

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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