THAILAND OPEN 2016 Finals – Tanongsak with the win…finally!

With the door wide open to a first Grand Prix Gold title, Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk and four others walked right on in and made this Thailand Open a very special one. […]

With the door wide open to a first Gold title, Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk and four others walked right on in and made this a very special one.

Story and photos by Gerald Jew, Badzine Correspondent live in Bangkok.

With the top badminton countries either choosing not to participate, or sending mostly 2nd tier and younger players to this year’s SCG Thailand Open, it opened the door for many first time winners in a Grand Prix Gold or major tournament.  Among Sunday’s finalists, there were a few notable exceptions who came in already in possession of Grand Prix Gold or even Superseries titles but most had tried before and fallen at the final stage, including two three-time runners-up, who finally made good.

The top-seeded Thai team of 20-year old Puttita Supajirakul and 24-year-old Sapsiree Taerattanachai became only the second Thai women’s doubles pair to win the Thailand Open, which began in 1984.  In the opening match of the afternoon, they defeated the 5th-seeded Mayu Matsumoto and Wakana Nagahara of Japan.

After easily winning the first game, Puttita and Sapsiree shot out to a 14-4 lead in the second game before the Japanese pair came storming back to tie the game at 17-all.  The Thai pair then rattled off the next four points to gain their first ever major title together.

After the match, Puttita’s youthful exuberance stood out: “We’re very happy to win the Thailand Open, it gives us a lot of confidence for the future.  Our main goal is to win the Olympics someday, but we would like to win any tournament – Superseries, Asian Games, the World Championship – winning any tournament is good.”

In the women’s singles, unseeded Japan’s Aya Ohori disappointed the hometown fans by defeating Thailand’s 3rd seeded Busanan Ongbamrungphan in a 49-minute, two-game match.  The 20-year-old Ohori fought off three game points before winning an exciting back and forth first game, 25-23.

Ongbamrungphan lost both her focus and more importantly her confidence, as Ohori trounced her 21-8 in the second game to win the match and her first Grand Prix Gold title.  It was three years ago that Ohori won her first Grand Prix title, in Russia, and her first final at this next echelon was last spring in New Zealand but she had to wait until after her 20th birthday to finally post her first victory.

Berry Angriawan and Rian Agung Suputro, the 2nd seeds from Indonesia captured their second Grand Prix Gold title as a pair.  They beat Japan’s unseeded Takuto Inoue and Yuki Kaneko in Sunday’s only three-game match to add to the Indonesian Masters title they won late in 2015.  In a close third game that was tied at 18-all, the Indonesians took the last three points to earn their spot atop the winner’s podium.

After the match, Inoue commented, “In the last two Superseries tournaments, in Japan and Korea, we were able to play well against high ranking pairs so we came here with the confidence and beat top-seeded Koo/Tan in the first round.  After that victory, we got wins even if they were close games.

“We regret our loss in the final.  It was a big chance to get a title.  But no time to cry.  We will just keep training more for the next tournament.”

4th time lucky!

The last two finals pitted a former Superseries winner against a challenger with a 0 and 3 record in Grand Prix Gold finals.  First, Malaysia’s 3rd seeded Tan Kian Meng and Lai Pei Jing overcame an 8-17 deficit and a match point in the deciding second game to beat Hong Kong’s Tang Chun Man and Tse Ying Suet in the mixed doubles.

Lai said after the match, “We prepared well before the match, so we were confident we could win.  We very much appreciate the support, the (Thai) fans were very supportive even though we were not in Malaysia.  We hope to keep up the momentum, but have to take it step by step.”

Tse, who won the Japan Open in 2013 with women’s doubles partner Poon Lok Yan, spoke about her very new mixed partnership with Tang: “It was our first time going into a final, so we were a little bit nervous.  We are still finding our way to play, I think we can do better.  I play women’s doubles and he plays men’s doubles, so we don’t have always have enough time to practice, but we will spend more time practicing together.”

The Malaysian victory seemed inevitable after Tan and Lai’s Vietnam Open victory, which came after they were denied in Grand Prix Gold finals in Malaysia, Taipei, and Indonesia.  For Thai men’s singles finalist Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk, however, it was his first time in a Grand Prix Gold final since his third runner-up finish, in late 2012.

The Thai fans were sent home happy, though, after Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk finally captured his first title in a major ranking tournament in the day’s final match.  The 5th-seeded Thai, Indonesia’s 2nd seeded Sony Dwi Kuncoro.  In a match that featured Kuncoro’s more patient style of play versus the more aggressive style of Saensomboonsuk, the hard smashing Thai, who turns 26 later this week, prevailed 21-15, 21-16.

Most of the finalists are taking a week off and then beginning the last European leg of the Superseries, in Denmark, but Tse and Tang are getting right back into action at this week’s Chinese Taipei Grand Prix event.

Final results
WD:  Puttita Supajirakul / Sapsiree Taerattanachai (THA) [1] beat Mayu Matsumoto / Wakana Nagahara (JPN) [5]  21-12, 21-17
WS:  Aya Ohori (JPN) beat Busanan Ongbamrungphan (THA) [3]  25-23, 21-8
MD:  Berry Angriawan / Rian Agung Saputro (INA) [2] beat Takuto Inoue / Yuki Kaneko (JPN)  17-21, 21-14, 21-18
XD:  Tan Kian Meng / Lai Pei Jing (MAS) [3] beat Tang Chun Man / Tse Ying Suet (HKG)  21-16, 22-20
MS:  Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk (THA) [5] beat Sony Dwi Kuncoro (INA) [2]  21-15, 21-16

Click here for complete results

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