By LERPONG AMSA-NGIAM
Top seed and world No 17 Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk toppled Fikri Ihsandi Hadmadi of Indonesia 21-14 21-12 in the men’s singles opening-round action to set up an all-Thai showdown with former world junior No 1 Kantaphon who came back after losing the first game to beat Frenchman Thomas Rouxel 20-22 21-10 21-4.
Kantaphon, 19, caused a big stir in the event 12 months ago to reach his first World Grand Prix Gold final here before losing to Tommy Sugiarto of Indonesia.
“I took time to get used to European style of play so I was struggling a bit in the first game. But then I slowed things down and tried not to play his game,” said the 19-year-old, who has no worries about having to defend his ranking points this week.
“There are still plenty of tournaments for me to gain points this year. No matter what happened last year, I won’t linger on it. I have to stay in the moment and show the results of my hard work in the off-season,” the young gun said.
Kantaphon and Tanongsak will square off this afternoon. The teenager upset the country’s No 1 player to clinch the National Championships title last year in three tough games.
“I have to focus on my game plan and what I have to do on court. But I’m confident that I’m stronger physically this year and have more experience,” he said.
Also reserving a second-round spot was Thai No 3 Suppanyu Avihingsanon, who upset seventh seed Lee Cheuk Yiu of Hong Kong 21-15 22-20.
On the women’s side, top seed Nitchaon Jindapol, the 2017 semi-finalist, dismissed compatriot Nuntakarn Aimsaard 21-13 21-12 in just 26 minutes to set up a second-round clash with India’s Mugdha Agrey.
“It’s great to start the year with a win. But from now on it will be tougher. I have to maintain my level and have fun out there and not get pressured,” the top seed said.
Sixteen-year-old sensation Pattarasuda Chaiwan, the under-17 Junior Asian Championship gold medallist, was on fire as she needed just 24 minutes to vanquish Hsuan-Yu Wendy Chen of Australia 21-6 21-12. Waiting for her in the next round will be the winner between sixth seed Dinar Dyah Ayustine of Indonesia and Japanese Natsuki Nidaira.
In women’s doubles, top pair Jongkonlphan Kititharakul and Rawinda Prajongjai gave a lesson to young countrywomen Chonnicha Charoenwat and Papatsorn Eksorakul with a straight-game 21-11 21-12 victory. Also moving ahead were the pair of Ruethauchanok Laisuan and Supamart Mingchua following their victory over Amanda Hogstrom and Clara Nistad of Sweden 21-20 21-18.