Kunlavut shows he’s back to his best with dominant win in home final

Peace of mind: Thailand’s Kunlavut Vitidsarn adopts a meditation posture to celebrate his win over Hong Kong’s Lee Cheuk Yiu in the Thailand Open final yesterday. — AFP

PETALING JAYA: Kunlavut Vitidsarn signalled his return to form after capturing the Thailand Open title.

The home favourite claimed a dominant 21-12, 21-10 win over Hong Kong’s world No. 17 Lee Cheuk Yiu in the final at the Huamark Indoor Stadium in Bangkok yesterday.

World No. 5 Kunlavut had to fight tooth and nail to subdue India’s reigning Commonwealth Games champion Lakshya Sen 13-21, 21-17, 21-13 in the semi-finals a day earlier but had a far easier time in the final much to the delight of the home fans.

It was the 22-year-old’s first title since winning the Indian Open in January.

Kunlavut had sustained an ankle injury after the Indian tourney and struggled for form.

The 2022 World Championships silver medallist failed to go beyond the early rounds of any individual tournaments since but showed that he was back to his best in his home tourney.

Meanwhile, mixed doubles pair Dechapol Puavaranukroh-Sapsiree Taerattanachai failed to make it a double joy for the home fans when they were stunned 21-11, 19-21, 20-22 by South Korea’s world No. 9 Kim Won-ho-Jeong Na-eun in a pulsating final.

World No. 2 Dechapol-Sapsiree had captured the Malaysian Masters last week and looked on course to win their second consecutive title after easily taking the first game.

The Koreans, though, refused to give up and kept pressuring the homesters and their persistence paid dividends.

It was Won-ho-Na-eun’s maiden World Tour title after finishing runners-up twice at the German Open in March and Australian Open last November.

In the women’s singles, world No. 2 An Se-young brought further joy to South Korea after claiming an impressive 21-10, 21-19 win over China’s world No. 5 He Bingjiao.

It was the 21-year-old Se-young’s fourth title of the year after she also captured the Indian Open, Indonesian Masters and All-England.

The in-form youngster had also finished runners-up at the Opens in Malaysia and Germany.

In the men’s doubles, China’s world No. 6 Liang Weikeng-Wang Chang emerged champions after beating Indonesia’s 2022 All-England champions Shohibul Fikri-Bagas Maulana 21-10, 21-15.

Men’s singles: Kunlavut Vitidsarn (Tha) bt Lee Cheuk Yiu (Hkg) 21-12, 21-10.

Men’s doubles: Liang Weikeng-Wang Chang (Chn) bt Shohibul Fikri-Bagas Maulana (Ina) 21-10, 21-15.

Women’s singles: An Se-young (Kor) bt He Bingjiao (Chn) 21-10, 21-19.

Women’s doubles: Kim So-yeong-Kong Yee-yong (Kor) bt Benyapa Aimsaard-Nuntakarn Aimsaard (Tha) 21-13, 21-17.

Mixed doubles: Dechapol Puavaranukroh-Sapsiree Taerattanachai (Tha) bt Kim Won-ho-Jeong Na-eun (Kor) 11-21, 21-19, 22-20.

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