Sunday, April 21, 2019
TEXT BY DEV SUKUMAR | BADMINTONPHOTO
One of the teams that stole the show at last year’s Sudirman Cup in Gold Coast was Thailand.
The Thais came from behind to beat Hong Kong in their group assignment before upsetting second seeds Denmark in another come-from-behind effort.
Ratchanok Intanon, who has spearheaded Thailand’s challenge in both individual and team events for some six years now, is hoping the team can punch above its weight when the TOTAL BWF Sudirman Cup 2019 is held in Nanning.
Thailand has a clutch of emerging men’s singles players in Khosit Phetpradab, Kantaphon Wangcharoen and Suppanyu Avihingsanon who are ranked beyond the top 15, but they have reasonable strength in the other four categories. Intanon believes it will be up to the others to deliver.
“Our men’s singles players are still young and not as experienced as the Japanese or Chinese. So the players who are experienced have to step up,” she said.
Intanon was one of Thailand’s key figures in their stunning run to the final at the Uber Cup last year. The women’s singles spearhead is hoping for a similar show in Nanning.
“We have a good spirit when we play the team events. I hope we can get to the semifinals,” says Intanon.
“I don’t want to put pressure on the team by having high expectations. When I play I think that I’m gaining experience. The more I play on court, the more I can learn, and that’s important. I don’t really set high goals for the rest of the team. I believe they will do their best.”
Intanon has had a good season on the HSBC BWF World Tour so far. She started the year with a victory at the Malaysia Masters, finished runner-up at the German Open, and captured the India Open. She was also a quarterfinalist at the Indonesia Masters, Malaysia Open and Singapore Open. The one big disappointment was her first round loss at the All England.
“I want to win some tournaments above the World Tour Super 500,” admits Intanon, even as she is cautious against pushing herself too hard in her quest. “I have to take care of myself as the tournaments are so tough and every match is not easy anymore like it was four or five years ago. Earlier the first and second rounds were not so hard but now from the first round it’s very tough. I’m also scared of injuring myself because Carolina Marin and Gao Fangjie have had major injuries. I don’t want to suffer something similar.”