The whiff of an upset passed by Canada, the opportunity to upstage Thailand slipping like a fleeting cloud. The moment couldn’t be seized, and the pecking order remained undisturbed, for Thailand won their second tie of Group B to seize their quarterfinals place at the TotalEnergies BWF Sudirman Cup Finals 2023.
Brian Yang had set up the tie for the Canadians, beating Kantaphon Wangcharoen to level the tie after Thailand had taken the opening mixed doubles. It was then Michelle Li against Ratchanok Intanon, and when Li shot ahead 12-6 in the third game, Thailand’s position looked shaky indeed.
Intanon held up well under the pressure, making a surge at 12-17 with six straight points, and then it was a shootout at the death, with nerves and pluck playing a part. Intanon survived, 22-20, and Thailand could breathe a little easier. At 2-1 up, the momentum shifted the Thais’ way, and Kedren Kittinupong/Dechapol Puavaranukroh rode a strong challenge from Nyl Yakura/Adam Dong in the opening game of the next match to take them to safety.
Li admitted that nerves had played a part.
“It could’ve gone either way in the third. I had the lead at 11. I made a few errors and she got confident and the nerves started to kick in, and then I got a bit disorganised in my thoughts. I tried to fight and she was very calm in the end, and I think that was the difference as I started to get a bit nervous. She’s very experienced and knew what to do.
“I got the lead and let that go, and she picked it up because she saw that I kind of relaxed a bit and made a couple of mistakes. She maximised on that and put more pressure on … it’s disappointing that I couldn’t get a point for the team.”
Intanon, on the road to recovery from a sinus problem that had laid her low earlier this year, was happy with her choice of shots at the very end.
“I tried to find my game at 21-20, and I knew she’d push me and I had to find the gap and she didn’t expect it,” said the Thai.
“We were nervous but we kept smiling. We each had to find gaps, but not one-two (shots), but one-two-three. I know at important times she’d try to push me hard, but I tried to make her play the way I wanted to.”
Comfortable Win for Indonesia
In the other Group B tie of the morning session, Indonesia made their way past Germany 4-1.