Nitchaon Jindapon: “I will be in the top ten this year”

Thailand’s Nitchaon Jindapon spoke to Badzine recently about her outlook for this year as she heads to her second All England with new-found confidence. By Don Hearn, Badzine Correspondent.  Photos: […]

Thailand’s Nitchaon Jindapon spoke to Badzine recently about her outlook for this year as she heads to her second All England with new-found confidence.

By Don Hearn, Badzine Correspondent.  Photos: Badmintonphoto and Sven Heise

Nitchaon Jindapon of Thailand is still young and on her way up, but she has already spent several years playing 3rd or even 4th fiddle to younger team-mates.  It was her last year as a junior when team-mates Ratchanok Intanon, then 14, and Porntip Buranaprasertsuk, also several months younger than Jindapon, faced off in the World Junior Championship final.

18 months later, Porntip had already scooped her first Superseries title and Ratchanok had won a Grand Prix, a Grand Prix Gold, and her second World Junior title.  Even Busanan Ongbamrungphan grabbed a good chunk of the Thai women’s singles spotlight when she won the Malaysia Grand Prix Gold title at 16 in 2012.

Last year, though, things started to change for Nitchaon.  She got off to a running start in 2013 by beating her first top ten opponent, Juliane Schenk, in the season opener.  Then after reaching the final of the Australian Open Grand Prix Gold, just a few days after her 22nd birthday, she followed that up by winning the Canada Open Grand Prix in July.

And just in case her Canadian victory might have been forgotten in the flurry of attention occasioned by her brawling team-mates, Nitchaon did one better in November, winning the Bitburger Open Grand Prix Gold title in Saarbrucken, Germany.

She now sits at a career-high 12th in the world rankings and looks forward to more great things in 2014.  She took some time to talk to Badzine while in Seoul last month for the Korea Open.

Badzine: What was the importance of your Grand Prix titles in 2013?

Nitchaon Jindapon: If I can move up in the rankings to the top 20 or top 15, I can get more money, I can get a bonus.  So it was very important to bring up my ranking and becoming the champion in a Grand Prix Gold tournament was what I was aiming for to accomplish that.  It’s easier to use a Grand Prix Gold tournament to improve my ranking than to try to do it with a Superseries.

Badzine: Way back in 2009, Salakjit Ponsana was the top Thai shuttler and Ratchanok and Porntip had already won international titles but it was you who reached the semi-finals of your home Thai Open.  Were you surprised that it took you so long to get a tournament victory?

Jindapon: I was very young at that time.  It really took about two more years to bring up, bring up my game.

Badzine: Has it been difficult with your team-mates, like Porntip and Ratchanok and Busanan, all winning titles when they were very young and you having to play in their shadow all the time.

Jindapon: It was difficult because those players won Superseries and Grand Prix Gold titles but I still thought that I could do it.  I think that I can be a champion too.

Badzine: Of course, usually having famous team-mates also means that you have the advantage of being able to train with talented players but is that the case for you?

Jindapon: No.  I train at the Thai Badminton Association.  Ratchanok trains at Banthongyord and Porntip trains with another club.  Sapsiree trains with us at the Association but she has given up playing singles.

Badzine: Why did Sapsiree stop playing singles?  Because she’d already won the U.S. Open?

Jindapon: Maybe [laughs] but I think she is just tired when she plays singles.  She is just concentrating on women’s doubles and mixed doubles now.  I’m okay with singles, though.  Fighting.

Badzine: What do you think you need to improve on if you want to start beating the top players more regularly?

Jindapon: Well, I am always making too many unforced errors.  I think this is the single most important thing for me and I cannot change.  I am strong enough, my mental strength is good but I just still make the unforced errors and I can’t get away from that.  It’s always there.

Badzine: Where in Thailand are you from?

Jindapon: I am training in Bangkok now but my hometown is Phuket.  I moved when I was 15 because I wanted to be a national team player.  Maneepong is also from there.  He moved to Bangkok first, and then me.

Badzine: How do you like playing in Korea in the winter?

Jindapon: This is my second time at the Korea Open Superseries.  The first time, I went to the quarter-finals.  Korea is okay because Thailand is very hot, but when it so cold, the shuttles are very slow.  You have to be strong to win.

Badzine: Do you like being in the city itself in the winter?

Jindapon: Korea is okay.  With the food and the shopping, all ladies like Seoul.

Badzine: What is your goal for 2014?

Jindapon: For this year, I will make it into the top ten.  For the All England, my goal is to reach the semi-finals.

Badzine: What players do you find the toughest to play?

Jindapon: The Chinese players are all tough to play against, but Li Xuerui in particular.  I’ve just been very satisfied whenever I’ve been able to beat a top ten player.

Shortly after she spoke to us, Nitchaon Jindapon got to taste more of that satisfaction.  For the second January in a row, she toppled a top ten player.  This time it was world #5 Sung Ji Hyun of Korea at the Malaysia Open.

She now prepares to play in her second All England, though like many on the tour, she will preface this with an appearance at the Grand Prix Gold event in Germany.  In Mulheim, though, she will be returning to the country where she took gold on her last visit.

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 @