Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai are determined to end their losing streak against the year’s hottest mixed doubles duo of Lu Kai and Huang Yaqiong as they square off today for the Asia Badminton Championship title in Wuhan.
Yesterday, the in-form Thais ousted Wang Yilyu and Huang Dongping of China 21-19 21-16 in 44 minutes to make back-to-back finals after the Singapore Open Super Series where they lost to Lu and Huang in three games.
Today’s final will be the fifth encounter between the two pairs with the Thais losing all their previous four matches, including the quarter-finals of the Malaysia Open Super Series Premier in early April.
“After they reached the semi-finals, we knew we have to play them again in the final. Although they are the favourites, we hope to make a difference this time. In fact, we are more confident than ever,” said Sapsiree, who has reached four finals this year with her young partner Dechapol.
The Thai pair almost turned the tables on the Chinese rivals in the Singapore Open final by using a strategic game plan to interrupt the rhythm of their opponents and dominated the match for a game and a half.
“We let them dictate play in the later stages of the second game. We didn’t put them under pressure like in the first game and we paid for that. That’s something we have to keep in mind in the final tomorrow,” Sapsiree said.
Ranked second in the world, Lu and Huang have reached the finals of all six tournaments they have entered this year. They triumphed at the All England Open, India Open and Singapore Open.
If Sapsiree and Dechapol succeed, they will become the first mixed doubles champions from Thailand since Sudket Prapakamol and Saralee Thungthongkam in 2005.
“I have no fears even though they are the overwhelming favourites. We just cannot let them play their game. Chinese players won’t give you the room to breathe if you set up easy shots for them,” Sapsiree said.
In the men’s singles, Lin Dan of China upset his arch-rival Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia. The Chinese world No 8 won over the world No 1 21-13 21-15. It was Lin’s 26th victory over the Malaysian. He will play compatriot Chen Long, who beat Shi Yuqi 21-19 21-15 in an all-Chinese affair.
On the women’s side, world No 1 Tai Tzu Ying of Taiwan stretched her unbeaten run this year to 14-0, demolishing Jang Mi Lee of South Korea 21-8 21-16. She will face world No 5 Akane Yamaguchi, who beat He Bingjiao 21-15 21-19. Tai and Yamaguchi are locked at three-all in their head-to-head meetings.