The Nation March 13, 2013 1:00 am
The country's top badminton official yesterday hailed the historic leap made by Thai shuttlers at last week's top-flight All England Open and is confident the Thais - and teen prodigy Ratchanok Intanon in particular - can pull off something special in the Swiss Open from today.
Charoen Wattanasin, president of the Badminton Association, praised the players for booking quarter-final berths in all categories, then winning three semi-final places - a first for Thailand at this level.
Eighteen-year-old Ratchanok, three-time world junior champion and last year's Thailand Open runner-up, also showed talent beyond her years when she stormed past world No 3 and second seed Saina Nehwal of India to become the first Thai woman ever to make it to the final in the tournament's 113-year history.
"It's a new chapter for Thai badminton history. Thai players have never come this far in the prestigious All England Open. I'm very pleased with their performances. It's the greatest success our players have managed so far," said Charoen. "I'm also happy with the way Ratchanok played her final against Tine Baun, despite the fact that she finally went down to the Danish veteran.
"Ratchanok is still young, but has been loaded with great experience. Her form has been improving by leaps and bounds. Actually, I think Ratchanok should have beaten Baun … she showed great form with well-placed shots, but didn't have enough left in the tank in the third game.
"We [Thailand] will host the World Junior Badminton Championships this year.
"I can't say it whether [Ratchanok] will take part, because she is now world No 8 [and] might be considered too strong for a junior tournament."
Ratchanok and local ace Boonsak Ponsana will lead the Thai charge in the Swiss Open from today. Rising star Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk, semi-finalist in the All-England Open and world No 37, was due to take on German Tobias Wadenka late yesterday, with Singapore Open champion Boonsak to play Bulgarian Stillian Makarskti.
Ratchanok plays her opening match today against Japan's Kana Ito, while team-mate Busanan Ongbumrungpan faces German Karin Schnaase. In the men's doubles today, Bodin Issara and Sudket Prapakamol will take on Indians Jerry Chapra Pranaav and Dewalkar Akshay, while the women's doubles today sees Artima Setithammarak/Peeraya Munkitamorn play hosts Celine Burkart/Simone Von Rotz and fourth seeds Duanganong Aroonkesorn/Kunchala Voravichitchaikul take on qualifiers. Sudket Prapakamol switches to partner Kunchala Voravichitchaikul to play qualifiers in the first round.