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Local teen stars streak into second round at Thailand Open II

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Three-time world junior champion Kunlavut Vitidsarn rebounded from a disastrous first game to beat former Thailand Masters champion Loh Kean Yew of Singapore in the first round of the $1-million Toyota Thailand Open at Impact Arena Muang Thong Thani on Wednesday.


The 19-year-old from Chonburi succumbed to nerves in the opener before showing tenacity and rock-solid defence to wear down his opponent in 65 minutes.

“Overall it was a good match for me, except for the first game where I started really slow,” said Kunlavut, who won a record three world junior men’s singles titles from 2017-19. “Then I tried to speed up and tightened my defence, cutting down easy errors,” the world No 29 added.

However fellow Thai Suppanyu Avihingsanon failed to emulate the teenager, going down 21-16 21-4 to world No 2 Chou Tien Chen of Taiwan.

Meanwhile Asian Games gold medallist Jonatan Christie of Indonesia was dumped out after a marathon 75-minute battle saw India’s Prannoy HS triumph 18-21 21-16 23-21. However, Prannoy’s compatriot and 2017 Thailand Open winner Sai Praneeth B withdrew from the tournament after testing positive for Covid-19 on Tuesday night.


Local teen stars streak into second round at Thailand Open II

Benyapa Aimsaard

Wednesday’s biggest upset came in the women’s singles, where Thailand’s world No 129 Benyapa Aimsaard, aged 18, stunned world No 29 Evgeniya Kosetskaya of Russia 21-15 17-21 21-19 in the first round.

"I was leading in the last game, but she was pushing hard in an aggressive style and [suddenly] the scores were level,” said Benyapa. “I was a bit shaky, but I tried to control myself. I am so glad I could make it over the finishing line. This has really boosted my confidence, this is massive for me,” said the Thai dark horse.

Local teen stars streak into second round at Thailand Open II

Carolina Marin 

Fresh from winning the Thailand Open I last week, Carolina Marin of Spain maintained her streak with a 21-9 21-18 win over Qi Xuefei of France.

The Spanish world No 6, who on Sunday upset world No 1 Tai Tzu Ying of Taiwan for her first victory since 2019, was briefly challenged by the China-born player before advancing after 42 minutes.

"I wanted to start with the same determination I had last week,” said the former world No 1, who already has four Super 1000 titles including the Thailand Open I under her belt.

"The first game was good. The second game I had a few unforced errors, but I didn't think negatively. I tried to keep going … and keep pushing her just to get the victory,” said Marin who has yet to drop a game in the past two weeks.

Elsewhere, South Korean teen sensation An Se Young, a semi-finalist last week, displayed her superior all-court game to eliminate local hope Phittayaporn Chaiwan 21-12 21-8.

Published : January 20, 2021