PETALING JAYA: S. Kisona’s good fortune continues at the Yonex Thailand Open.
The reigning SEA Games champion, who went to Bangkok as a sparring partner, found herself in the main draw after a spate of last-minute withdrawals.
And yesterday, she advanced into the last 16 without lifting her racquet after her first-round opponent, India’s Saina Nehwal, tested positive for Covid-19.
The 22-year-old shuttler will now open her campaign tomorrow against Thailand’s world No. 12 Busanan Ongbamrungphan at the Impact Arena.
If their last encounter is anything to go by, Kisona will have a tough fight on her hands.
“I played against her in the SEA Games team event and lost (21-15,11-21,12-21). She’s a difficult opponent but I will try my best to get the better of her this time, ” said Kisona.
Busanan, also a SEA Games champion in 2015, helped Thailand defend the team gold in the Philippines but did not play in the individual event.
Kisona revealed that she has missed the chance to square up against her idol Saina.
“It would have been a dream come true. I managed to meet her once and took a photograph with her, ” she said.
“That was back in 2013 (at the Malaysian Open), I was just 14 then and playing in the qualifiers.
“I look up to her a lot, she is one of the best players in the world who is able to challenge the Chinese.”
Meanwhile, head coach Indra Wijaya wants Kisona to rise to the occasion.
“Albeit with a little luck, she made it to the main draw and is now in the last 16. I hope she can make this opportunity count because as a lower ranked player, you don’t always get a chance to play in a top-tier World Tour event, ” said Indra.
“I want her to gain as much experience in these two weeks. She’s a SEA Games champion, but you can’t compare a top World Tour event with a regional Games.
“She has a chance against Busanan. As long as she can adapt quickly to the conditions, nothing is impossible.
“We have seen many upsets already on the opening day.”