Ratchanok romps, Thais triumph
Thailand's former badminton world champion Ratchanok Intanon and her teammates are on course to defend their SEA Games gold in the women's team event.
They trounced Singapore 3-0 in the semi-finals at the Singapore Indoor Stadium yesterday, securing their spot in today's final against Malaysia.
Ratchanok (above), 20, grabbed an early lead for the Thais after vanquishing Singapore's Liang Xiaoyu 21-17, 21-14 in the first game.
"I was the first player and I wanted to get the early lead for Thailand so that the players after me would feel more confident," she said after the 37-minute match.
According to Ratchanok, the key to the Thais' powerful performance lies in their ability to dictate their opponents' style of play.
"My opponent had a good showing today, but, in the end, her problem was that I directed the shuttlecock in a way that would lead her to play in the style I wanted," she explained.
"I did that so that I would be able to control her performance."
The Thais are favourites to win the women's team event, having clinched the gold medal at the 2011 SEA Games in Indonesia, where badminton team events were last contested.
Their hopes for gold are also boosted by the presence of world No. 5 Ratchanok.
At 18, she became the youngest world champion after defeating current world No. 3 Li Xuerui at the BWF World Championships in 2013.
When asked if she was confident about winning the team gold today, Ratchanok smiled and nodded.
But she will not be competing in the individual events as she will be flying to China to represent her club Qingdao Hezhan Renzhou in the Chinese Badminton Super League.
Ratchanok's teammates followed her win in the first singles with straight-set wins in the first doubles and second singles.
Puttita Supajirakul and Sapsiree Taerattanachai beat Shinta Mulia Sari and Vanessa Neo 21-12, 21-19 in 32 minutes to put Thailand 2-0 up, before Busanan Ongbumrungpan wrapped up proceedings dispatching Grace Chua 21-6, 21-15 in 27 minutes.