WORLDS 2015 Day 2 – Porntip trips Okuhara

Porntip Buranaprasertsuk is off to a strong start in Jakarta, winning her second match by ousting #9 seed Nozomi Okuhara of Japan. By Don Hearn, Badzine Correspondent live in Jakarta.  […]

Porntip Buranaprasertsuk is off to a strong start in Jakarta, winning her second match by ousting #9 seed Nozomi Okuhara of Japan.

By Don Hearn, Badzine Correspondent live in Jakarta.  Photos: Badmintonphoto (live)

Porntip Buranaprasertsuk (pictured) really seemed to go off the boil after her impressive streak in late 2013, when she posted two victories over then world #1 Li Xuerui and one against former World Champion Wang Yihan.  She went to a career-high world ranking of 8th in early 2014 but her fortunes had already taken their turn for the worse by the time she was bundled out of the last year in her first match by underdog Michelle Li.

The Thai is starting to show signs of rebounding from the slump, though.  Last month, she beat Tai Tzu Ying to reach the final of the Universiade, where she lost narrowly to defending champion Sung Ji Hyun.  She will get her chance to exact payback from Sung on Thursday but the story of today is how she earned that chance.

Porntip came into her 2nd round match undefeated in two matches against her opponent, world #9 Nozomi Okuhara of Japan.  However, both of those matches were even before Okuhara had won her World Junior Championship title in 2012.

The Thai got off to a brilliant start, running away with the first game, but she couldn’t catch up once Nozomi took the upper hand in the second.  In the decider, Porntip pushed the 20-year-old Japanese shuttler all over the court and repeatedly placed her smashes on the lines, heaping the pressure on the #9 seed until she finally got the victory.

“I think that last time, she didn’t understand what type of game she should play,” explained Udom Luangphetcharaporn (pictured) after the match.  “And I tried explaining it to her and she tried training to do more attacking because she is an attacking player.

“Some tournaments, she does more defending and this is not her style and we tried to train her to her former top form.  We tried to put her in that position.

“I had to make her move because she is short,” Porntip said of her strategy against Okuhara.  “If I move her to the back and then the front, if her movement is not good, then I would have the chance to attack.

“If I were to keep defending, it wouldn’t work because her drops are so tight to the net.”

Coming up, is her rematch with Sung Ji Hyun, to whom she has lost six straight matches, including last month in Korea.

“I made so many mistakes and then she was able to attack me and she defended well while I made mistakes.

“I think that here, the supporters who are supporting her and supporting me will be about half and half.  The wind can also be very strong but it will be hard for me and her.  I need the luck.  It depends on the day.”

“Sung may have an advantage because she is taller and her controlling skill is better but if Porntip can have success in attacking, then she has a chance,” added coach Udom.

Porntip is training with the Thai National Badminton Team, where she has opportunities to spar with top players such as Busanan Ongbamrungphan, Nitchaon Jindapon, as well as with the male shuttlers.  She also trains year-round in the tropical heat, which could be helpful as things heat up in the Istora Senayan, and she is not concerned about having the stamina for longer matches.

“In Thailand, we don’t have air conditioning.  We train with the weather.  If I have confidence, I will have the energy to play.”

Sung Ji Hyun, meanwhile, won her first match of the week by evening her head-to-head record against Yip Pui Yin, the woman who beat her not only in the Olympics, but also at the Indonesia Open in June.

“Yip is very good at attacking so I find it difficult when I have to defend against her,” said Sung after the match.

Looking ahead to her future opponents in the week, she said, “At this hall, the air conditioning makes the shuttle move around so much that the player who does the best at adapting to that has the advantage.”

Sung had to withdraw halfway through a match in a major national tournament last month but she feels that her injury has completely healed, say of her condition: “I have come down with a bit of a head cold so that is troubling me a little but I trained hard in preparation for this tournament so I am looking forward to a good result.”

If Porntip can manage to beat Sung, her following opponent will be even taller, as it will be the winner of the match between two-time silver medallist Li Xuerui and two-time bronze medallist P. V. Sindhu (pictured).

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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 @