Thailand Open ends with 1 gold and near misses for home players
World No 5 Kunlavut Vitidsarn lived up to the expectations of the home crowd as he toppled world No 17 Lee Cheuk Yiu from Hong Kong 21-12, 21-10 to win the men’s singles, but his compatriots lost in the mixed and women’s doubles as the Toyota Gazoo Racing Thailand Open came to a conclusion at Hua Mark Indoor Stadium on Sunday.
In a match that clocked only 38 minutes, Kunlavut displayed superior all-round game to beat the Hong Konger for the third time. The 22-year-old has won three tour titles including the previous two in Germany last year and India this year.
"I have to thank the fans for their tremendous support not only at the stadium but from everywhere. I'm so overwhelmed." With this victory, Kunlavut became the fourth Thai man to win the Thailand Open men's singles crown, following in the footsteps of Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk, who won in 2016.
Kunlavut Vitidsarn in his signature meditation pose./
Photo by Wanchai Kraisornkhajit
Kunlavut will next enter two regional events in Singapore (BWF 750) and Indonesia (BWF 1000) which are set to commence on Wednesday.
Asked if he eyes on additional title within the next fortnight, he said: “"For me, my focus is on learning from each match rather than solely pursuing more titles. I've noticed that when I face pressure, it becomes challenging to maintain control over the game. Therefore, my intention is to absorb knowledge and skills from other top players worldwide.
“I will approach each match with a one-at-a-time mindset. Setting excessively high expectations for myself only adds unnecessary pressure. Considering the demanding schedule of competing week after week in various countries, I recognize that it can take a toll on both my physical and mental well-being. It's possible that I may not feel as fresh as I did in the initial event.”
Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsire Taerattanachai pose alongside mixed doubles champions Kim Won Ho and Jeong Na Eun of South Korea./Photo by Wanchai Kraisornkhajit
In a thrilling mixed doubles match, the top-seeded pair of Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsire Taerattanachai experienced a heart-wrenching defeat to Kim Won Ho and Jeong Na Eun of South Korea. Despite holding a championship point at 20-19, Dechapol and Sapsire faltered and ultimately lost 21-11, 19-21, 20-22. The Thai duo faced a stroke of misfortune when Sapsire's racquet string broke at 20-21 in the final set, leaving Dechapol to cover the court alone. This allowed the South Korean pair to seize control and secure the victory.
The South Korean team celebrated their first-ever BWF victory together, having previously defeated the Thai pair in the India Open earlier this year. Their triumph dashed the Thai pair's hopes of claiming back-to-back titles after their win in Malaysia the previous week.
In the post-match interview, Dechapol Puavaranukroh expressed his thoughts on the closely contested match, stating, "It was a very close match. The ones who played more aggressively would gain the upper hand. But in the end, our side made a few more mistakes and were too defensive."
The Thai duo has their sights set on the upcoming tournaments in Singapore and Indonesia. Sapsiree Taerattanachai acknowledged the need to recover physically as quickly as possible, saying, "We have to look ahead for the new tournaments and try to recover physically as quickly as possible."
There was further disappointing news for Thai fans when Benyapa and Nuntakarn Aimsaard were outclassed by world No 7 Kim So Yeong and Kong Hee Yong of South Korea 13-21, 17-21.
The Thais now have 0-2 lifetime record against the South Koreans who beat them in the Malaysia Open in January.
An Se Young poses with her trophy and medal after her victory in the women’s singles./Photo by Wanchai Kraisornkhajit
In the women's singles, An Se Young of South Korea, currently ranked No. 2 in the world, clinched her 15th BWF World Tour title by defeating He Bing Jiao of China in a straight-game match with a score of 21-10, 21-19.
An Se Young has demonstrated exceptional performance throughout the year, reaching the finals in all six World Tour tournaments she has participated in since January. Her consistent and skillful play proved decisive as she secured her third victory against He Bing Jiao out of their seven encounters.
The Thailand Open marked An Se Young's fourth title win of the year, with her most notable achievement being the All England Championship in March. Additionally, she became the second South Korean player to emerge as the champion in this event since Sung Ji-hyun's victory in 2015.
Liang Wei Keng and Wang Chang of China pose with their trophy and medals after their victory in men’s doubles./Photo by Wanchai Kraisornkhajit
In the men's doubles category, the third-seeded pair of Liang Wei Keng and Wang Chang from China secured a comfortable victory against Muhammad Shohibul Fikri and Bagas Maulana of Indonesia with a score of 21-10, 21-15. This triumph marked their second tour win of the season, following their earlier success at the Indian Open in January.