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Sunday March 10, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Thursday April 18, 2013 MYT 12:37:32 AM
Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon is
now in the final after beating Saina Nehwal in the
semi-finals. — AFP
CHINA’S misery and Thailand’s emergence have been the highlights of the All-England so far.
Badminton powerhouse China took a massive blow in the women’s singles when none of their players made it to the semi-finals following the 21-23, 21-19, 16-21 loss of 2011 All-England champion Wang Shixian to Saina Nehwal on Friday.
Their other top guns – Li Xuerui and Wang Yihan – were blown away in the early rounds.
China’s women have been a dominant force in the All-England, having made every final since 1982 – except for 1991, 1993 and 1995.
National singles coach Rashid Sidek believes that China’s fragility in the women’s singles has made the game more interesting.
“They used to be so dominant ... now others have shown that they can be beaten. The women’s singles event is no longer a boring affair. Even the quality of the game has improved,” said Rashid.
China also suffered several other disappointments in the All-England with the defeats of mixed doubles top seeds Xu Chen-Ma Jin and singles players Chen Jin and Du Pengyu against lower ranked shuttlers.
While China are taking a beating, Thailand are making inroads in a game where they used to be the minnows.
They can revel in having their biggest representation in the All-England semi-finals after Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk, Ratchanok Intanon and Maneepong Jongjit-Nipitphon Puangpuapech won their men’s singles, women’s singles and men’s doubles events respectively on Friday.
Veterans Sudket Prakamol-T. Saralee almost made it a grand day but went down fighting to siblings Markis Kido-Pia Zebadiah Bernadeth of Indonesia 21-18, 20-22, 20-22.
Ratchanok then provided more joy for Thailand by beating Saina 21-15, 21-19 to reach the final.
“Ratchanok is a three-time world junior champion but she’s not the only women’s singles player the Thais have. They have another three or four good ones waiting in the wings. They have the depth,” said Rashid.
“Tanongsak’s breakthrough also showed that they have an able replacement for their aging senior shuttler Boonsak Ponsana.
“Thailand used to be below us in the SEA region. Now, I see them as favourites at the Myanmar SEA Games in December.
“They have certainly made their presence felt on the international scene.”
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