THAILAND OPEN 2011 Day 3 – Single singles Thai remains

Thursday’s action at the SGC Thailand Open brought those in attendance some incredible come–from-behind victories, the defeat of Thailand’s biggest star and also saw many of the favourites advance into […]

Thursday’s action at the SGC brought those in attendance some incredible comefrom-behind victories, the defeat of Thailand’s biggest star and also saw many of the favourites advance into the quarter-finals at this year’s event in Bangkok, Thailand.

By Gerald Jew, Badzine correspondent live in Bangkok. Photos: Badmintophoto (archives) and Gerald Jew (live)

The highly partisan fans in attendance at Chulalongkorn University Sports Complex were thrilled earlier in the day as many of Thailand’s biggest badminton stars advanced to the quarter-final round before they were brought down to earth by Boonsak Ponsana’s shocking defeat at the hands of China’s Wang Zhengming (pictured) in a featured evening match.

Many of Korea’s biggest stars also moved into the next round, led by Park Sung Hwan (pictured right), who executed an exciting come-from-behind three-game victory over Malaysia’s Muhammad Hafiz Hashim.

Park, who took the first game 21-16 and lost the second 18-21, started slowly in the rubber game to find himself trailing Hashim 11-17 before he rattled off six straight points to tie it at 17-all.  The game was tied five more times and see-sawed back and forth before Park finally took the match by a score of 25-23 to complete his amazing victory.

With a large crowd and Thailand’s “crazy guy” cheerleaders on hand (pictured bottom), Ponsana’s loss to Wang proved to be a huge disappointment for the fans of Thailand’s biggest star.

Wang, the 2008 BWF World Junior Champion and tenth seed, started off quickly in the first game. Wang overpowered the second-seeded Ponsana 21-8 in the first game as Ponsana seemed content to play a tactical defensive type of game that proved to be the wrong strategy against the powerful Wang.


Wang Zhengming (CHN) © Gerald Jew

Ponsana changed tactics in the second game with a winning overhead smash on the very first point of the game as if to show the young Chinese star who was in charge. The strategy worked well as Ponsana took control of the game, winning easily by a score of 21-9 and working the crowd into a frenzy.

Ponsana continued his more aggressive style of play into the third game as Wang made numerous unforced errors and fell behind 9-16.  A suddenly rejuvenated Wang then took the next seven points to tie the match at 16-all before winning the next point to take the lead. He never looked back as he took four of the last five points of the match to complete one of the biggest wins of his career and move into Friday’s quarter-final round.

Also advancing into the men’s singles quarter-finals were China’s number one and four seeds, Chen Long and Chen Jin respectively. Chen Long defeated France’s Brice Leverdez 21-18, 21-12 and will face India’s P. Kashyap, who defeated Malaysia’s Mohamad Arif Abdul Latif 21-16, 19-21, 21-12. Malaysia’s Wong Choong Hann, India’s Sourabh Verma and Korea’s sixth-seeded Lee Hyun Il complete the men’s singles quarter-final lineup.

The mixed doubles also provided one of the most exciting matches of the day as Thailand’s top-seeded duo of Sudket Prapakamol and Saralee Thoungthongkam (pictured) also came from behind to take a tough three-game match against the Korean pair of Yoo Yeon Seong and Jang Ye Na. In a third game that was tied nine times, Sudket and Saralee fought off two match points that would have given Yoo and Jang the victory before prevailing 23-21.

Thailand’s Songphon Anugritayawon and Kunchala Voravitchitchaikul had an easier path to the quarter-finals, winning 21-12, 21-18 over Singapore’s Chayut Triyachart and Yao Lei. After the match, Songphon confessed how nervous he gets, especially when playing a friend like Triyachart, with whom he grew up in Thailand: “He [Tryichart] is like a little brother to me.  When I play an opponent who is such a good friend, I don’t concentrate well and get very nervous. I take the points one by one, point by point and hope for the best.”


Mixed doubles #2 seeds Kunchala Voravitchitchaikul / Songphon Anugritayawon (THA) © Gerald Jew

About Friday’s matchup with China’s Xu Chen and Ma Jin, Songphon said, “We have faced them both before but not together [as partners].  We lost in both cases.”

The women’s singles has gone exactly as planned with all of the top eight seeds moving into the quarter-finals. Top seed Saina Nehwal of India beat Japan’s Mitani Minatsu in three, winning 21-13, 15-21, 21-7. Young Thai star Porntip Buranaprasertsuk will hope to give the local fans something to cheer about on Friday when she faces Korea’s Sung Ji Hyun, who is seeded but had to score her first win each against Wang Lin and Pi Hongyan to reach the quarters.

The people that make up the seeds also did well in the men’s doubles; seven of the top eight seeds will play in Friday’s quarter-finals. All of the men’s doubles teams played two matches on Thursday to advance.

The USA’s eighth seeded team of Howard Bach and Tony Gunawan (pictured) beat Liu Xiaolong and Qiu Zihan of China in their opening round match. After the match Bach said, “In matches where we haven’t played the teams before we just try to keep things simple. Just go one game at a time, everyone is good. Tony tries to set things up and I try to execute, just play our game.”

Bach and Gunawan executed well as they beat Indonesia’s Luluk Hadiyanto and Imam Sodkin Irawan 15-21, 21-12, 21-12 in their evening match and will face the number three seeded team of Chinese Taipei’s Fang Chieh Min and Lee Sheng Mu in a Friday matchup that will replicate their Singapore Open final of last year.

Korea’s Lee Yong Dae and Jung Jae Sung, the number one seeded pair, has yet to drop a game and will look to move into Saturday’s semi-final round against Germany’s Ingo Kindervater and Johannes Shoettler.


Thailand’s “crazy guy” cheerleaders © Gerald Jew

The seeding committee didn’t do quite so well in the women’s doubles discipline. The fifth seeded Chinese team, Asian Games gold medallists Tian Qing and Zhao Yunlei, are the highest seeded team remaining in the draw and would have to be considered the favourites to take the title on Sunday.

When the action resumes today at 4:00 PM, Badzine will be on hand to present all of Friday’s action live from Bangkok. If Thursday’s matches are any indication of what will play out, Friday’s quarter-finals should make for an exciting evening of badminton from the Sports Complex in Bangkok.

For full results from Day 3 of the 2011 SCG Thailand Open Grand Prix Gold, CLICK HERE

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