By Lerpong Amsa-ngiam
World No 14 Nitchaon had to adjust her game to suit the ventilation at the new venue to subdue underdog Lin Ying Chun of Taiwan 21-12 21-15.
“The challenging thing was the draught [from the air-conditioning] but instead of getting upset, I tried to make use of it with some adjustments on my shots and serves. I really did some homework on how to deal with it,” said the 27-year-old from Phuket.
After three years at the Supachalasai National Stadium, the BWF World Super 300 series event has been moved to Hua Mark for the first time due to that venue’s better facilities.
“I was playing up to my standard and got myself out of trouble several times at this court for the first time. This is such a way to start my season,” added the top seed who is brimming with confidence about her title defence after working with new coach Agus Dwi Santosa.
“Since working with him, my confidence level growing. He keeps telling me to believe in myself, that I can do it again this year,” she said.
While Nitchaon moved forward, it was the other way round for the Kingdom’s No 1 men’s singles player Kantaphon Wangcharoen – the world No 15 was knocked out by fellow Thai Sitthikom Thamasin 17-21 21-23 in a rematch of last year’s National Championship final.
“I beat him before so I knew I had to finish the points fast. Now I hope to reach the quarter-finals,” said Sitthikom, a 23-year-old former national Asian Games player.
In the highly anticipated showdown between two-time Olympic champion Lin Da of China and two-time World Junior champion Kunlavut Vitidsarn, the teenager showed plenty of guts before succumbing 21-14 11-21 21-12.
“I learned a lot from today, especially about the physical condition which I need to improve. Lin Dan is stronger in the attacks and defensive skills,” said the 18-year-old Thai qualifier.
There were no such problems for the country’s other stars: defending women’s doubles champions Jongkolphan Kititharakul and Rawinda Prajongjai, mixed doubles specialists Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai and defending men’s doubles champion Tinn Isiriyanet and new partner Niphitphon Phuangphuapet all went through without dropping a game.