By LERPONG AMSA-NGIAM
The world No 4 pair, who upset world No 1 Zheng Siwei and Huang Yaqiong of China en route to their Singapore Open victory earlier this month, are now the best hope for Thailand in the continent’s top tournament, starting tomorrow in Wuhan, China.
The pair will open their account against Saurabh Sharma and Anoushka Parikh of India and will seek to maintain their top form and go deep in a tournament where they were runners-up in 2017, losing to Huang and Lukai in the final.
While 2015 champion Ratchanok opted to skip the event for the mixed team Sudirman Cup, in Nanning from May 19-26, three other Thai women will represent the Kingdom this week.
World No 20 and Thai No 2 Pornpawee Chochuwong will carry Thai hopes in the women’s singles where she opens her campaign against Lee Ying Ying of Malaysia. World No 24 Busanan Ongbamrungphan faces Yeo Jia Min of Singapore and Nitchaon Jindapol has a daunting task against fifth-seeded He Bingjiao of China.
With world and defending champion No 1 Tai Tzu Ying not taking part, Chen Yufei of China, last year’s runner-up, and 2017 world champion Nozomi Okuhara of Japan are the top two seeds.
In the men’s singles, world No 1 and reigning champion Kento Momota of Japan as well as top Chinese stars Lin Dan, a four-time champion here, 2017 winner Chen Long and world No 2 Shi Yuqi are strong contenders.
Thailand’s top four – Khosit Phetpradab, No 17, Kantaphon Wangcharoen, No 18, Suppanyu Avihingsanon, No 28 and Sittthikom Thammasin, No 30 – will attempt to cause some damage.