The mixed doubles top seeds were extended to three games by Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Ashwini Ponnappa of India before prevailing 22-20, 18-21, 21-12. They reached back-to-back finals after triumphing in the final last Sunday.
“We have been training hard for nine months and it is really paying off. We reached our target by being in the final again,” said Dechapol, looking for his second home win with Sapsiree. They will play Seo Seung Jae and Chae Yujung in the final.
“We’ve always had close matches. We beat them last week [in the semi-finals], so they will be well prepared for us this time. We have to stay really focused,” Sapsiree said.
While the Thai pair were successful, it was a heart-breaking day for Ratchanok who wasted four matchpoints before losing to world No. 1 Tai Tzu-ying in the women’s singles semi-finals.
At 16-20 in the decider, the gutsy Taiwanese came up with eyebrow-raising shots to outlast the home favourite 12-21, 21-12, 23-21 after a 59-minute battle of classic rallies between two of the most talented players on the tour.
"I feel happy with my performance, though I lost to Tai Tzu Ying,” said former word No 1 Ratchanok. “I've been trying to learn point by point Tai's weaknesses. She is mentally very strong and today I think I lost because of the mental game,” Ratchanok said. She, however, has reserved a spot in next week’s World Tour Finals alongside compatriot Pornpawee Chorchuwong as the only two Thais in the singles event.
Tai is in her fifth straight final.
“I had to play very patiently today because Ratchanok is not an easy opponent. Her style of play is flexible, she can play a lot of different shots and she can also be unpredictable. In the opening game, I made a few mistakes and in the second and third I played long rallies and kept things patient. In the final moments of the match, I just enjoyed playing badminton on court again,” said Tai.
The 26-year-old Tai once again sets up a final duel with Spaniard Carolina Marin who had beaten her in straight games in Thailand Open I last Sunday.
“For the final, my main issue is managing my unforced errors and from watching Marin's matches, I can say she's very quick and I'll try to keep up,” she said.
Marin relied on her superior technique to underline her supremacy over South Korean teenager An Se-young 21-19, 21-15 in 51 minutes. She had also stopped An at this stage last Saturday.
"I’m much happier today than the rest of the games I played this week. Sometimes it’s tough for the mindset when you have won a tournament just three days ago and you have to start a tournament all over again. You have to keep all your focus every day. So I’m very happy that I could reach my second final,” added the world No 6, who trails Tai 7-9 in head-to-head clashes.
On the men’s side, world No. 42 Hans-Kristian Solberg Vittinghus wore down world No 3 Anders Antonsen in an all-Danish semi-final showdown 21-19, 21-8. After a close first game, Antosen had no gas left in the second game and lost in 45 minutes.
Vittinghus will take on compatriot Viktor Axelsen who beat Chen Chou Tien of Taiwan 21-19, 21-15 in a rematch of last Sunday’s final. Axelsen is trying to become the first player in history to win the Grand Slam title after having won the All England Open in 2020 and the Thailand Open last week.
Hans-Kristian Solberg Vittinghus
Published : January 23, 2021
By : Lerpong Amsa-ngiam THE NATION