By Lerpong Amsa-ngiam
The world No 4 players remained the last Thai hope in the tournament after Ratchanok Intanon and Kantaphon Wangcharoen were eliminated from the Saturday’s semi-final competition.
Sapsiree and Dechapol upset world No 1 Wang Yi Lyu and Huang Dong Ping of China 21-16 21-16 in the semi-finals, avenging their loss to this same stage in the Thailand Open at home earlier this month.
“We were playing according to our plan. The side that took the initiative had the advantage,” said Sapsiree who along with Dechapol are now the first Thai mixed doubles players to reach the finals of the World Championships.
Waiting them on the opposite side of the net are nobody else but the defending champions Zheng and Huang who have beaten the Thai duo seven times in eight meetings. The only win Dechapol and Sapsiree posed over the Chinese rivals was in the semi-finals of the April’s Singapore Open where they went on to claim their only title together this year.
“We will maximize our effort out there and have no pressure. We’ve already achieved our goal by winning a medal in this trip,” said Sapsiree. She and her partner are at least guaranteed with a silver by reaching the finals.
Prior to Friday, Thailand had never before had players in three semi-finals of the tournament. But two were knocked out of the Saturday’s actions.
2013 champion Ratchanok Intanon played a formidable first game against 2017 champion Nozomi Okuhara of Japan before being worn down in three games 21-17 18-21 15-21.
“I was playing too defensive in the second game and was moving a bit slowly. I worked hard to get points from her but she earned easy points from my mistakes,” said Ratchanok who despite the loss still took some positive side out of it.
“Since I won here in 2013, I never reached the semis again until this year. It’s a good boost for me to keep working hard and improve my physical strength,” the former world No 1 added.
Kantaphon meanwhile went down to fifth-seeded Anders Antonsen of Denmark 21-15 21-10.
“I was a bit stiff today which allowed him to take control of the match. I was excited (being in the semi-final in a World Championships). My hand was a bit tight,” said the world No 15.
“I’m so proud to be the first Thai man to win a medal here. But I still need to go back and work hard. There’s still a long way for me to go,” Kantaphon added.