Pannawit Thongnuam lifted the moods of local fans at the Thung Jaeng Gymnasium in Trang when he upset top seed Riichi Takeshita of Japan 21-19 24-22 to win the men’s singles title in the Smiling Fish International Challenge badminton on Saturday.
The 22-year-old, who is the boyfriend of Thai No 1 Ratchanok Intanon, clawed back from 10-16 in the second game to bring the world No 87 to his knees by combining drop shots and fierce jumping smashes to win in one hour.
“I’m very happy to win my first Challenge title. I went into the final thinking that my chances of winning were only 50 per cent. He had beaten me quite easily in Japan Open last year. But I tried to slow him down and made him play at my pace. He loves to play a fast attacking game,” said Pannawit, who pointed out that maturity was the key for his victory this week.
“In the past, I gave away several match points by going for my shots. But now I’m older and more experienced. I try not to rush things and figured out a smart way to finish the match,” he said.
One of the several text messages he received after the victory was from Ratchanok, his big supporter, who inspired him to focus on badminton seriously.
“She is happy for my first win. She tells me to keep working hard. I cannot deny that I get inspired by her success,” said Pannawit, who was playing with an ankle injury all week.
The University Games gold medallist will have a few weeks break before entering the Thailand Open.
Chinese players won three titles yesterday. It all started in the men’s doubles where Kang Jun and Sijie Zhang beat Nur Mohd Aziyn Ayub and Jagdish Singh of Malaysia 21-15 21-15.
Then Hui Xirui pipped seventh seed Natsuki Nidaira of Japan 21-10 15-21 21-19 in the women’s singles final.
Wang Sijie and Du Peng won the mixed doubles title, outclassing second seed Lukhi Apri Nugroho and Ririn Amelia of Indonesia 21-14 21-12.