LOCAL HOPE Nitchaon Jindapol defied a right-hamstring injury to tame Indian teenager Mugdha Agrey 21-13 21-13 and reserve a quarter-final spot in the Princess Sirivannavari Thailand Masters at the Nimibutr National Stadium yesterday.
The world No 13 picked up the injury during practice but it did not slow her down as she remains on track to become the third Thai female winner following Ratchanok Intanon and Busanan Ongbumrungphan in 2016 and 2017 respectively.
“I won’t let this injury to stop me. I will try to find other ways to win my next matches,” said Nitchaon, who reached the semi-final 12 months ago. “But I will try to focus on my game, not worry about the pressure or expectations from fans,” she added.
Also proceeding into the final eights was teenage rising star Pattarasuda Chaiwan after she stunned world No 64 Natsuki Nidaira of Japan 15-21 21-12 21-14.
Jongkolphan and Niphitphon
In mixed doubles, Niphitphon Phuangphupet and Jongkolphan Kititharakul extended their surprise run in the tournament by eliminating Hee Chun Mak and Wu Yi Ting of Hong Kong 21-11 21-15 in less than 30 minutes. The Thai pair had earlier upset eighth-seeded Robin Tabeling and Cheryl Seinen of the Netherlands in three tough games.
“When I saw the draw, I knew it would be easier if we could survive the first round. I am quite happy to come this far as I’m not 100 per cent yet,” said the 26-year-old Niphitphon, who picked up a back injury during practice.
Jongkolphan, who has paired with Niphitphon for the past year, said the key for her was to play fast and aggressively at the net.
“We have to take the initiative and put pressure on them at the net. To reach the quarter-final is beyond expectations. Everything is a bonus from now on,” said Jongkolphan, in her second quarter-final appearance with Niphitphon after the Japan Open Super Series last year.
In fact the two just came back from an aurora hunt trip in Russia where they had to wait for their luggage for four days (happened during a transit from Abu Dhabi) under -27 degree.
“We had to rent a coat and lived with the same clothes for four days. It was such a tough time but experiencing the aurora was a great compensation” Niphotphon said.
Puttita and Dechapol
Joining them in today’s quarter-finals were seventh-seeded Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Puttita Supajirakul who moved past Yeung Ming Nok and Ng Tsz Yau of Hong Kong by the skin of their teeth 20-22 21-12 21-19.
“We still have to adjust to each other as we just started pairing a few months ago,” said Puttita, who also reached the quarter-finals with Dechapol for the second time after the French Open last October.
In the men's singles second round, last year's finalist Kantaphon Wangcharoen advanced to the quarter-final after top seed Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk retired with a knee injury at 20-22 4-11. The Thai No 1 Tanongsak just came back from playing a league in India on Tuesday.
"I started a bit sluggish but played much better at the end of the first game. I was playing well in the seocnd game before he decided to stop the match. I really love this tournament as I have a good memory from last year," the 19-year-old Kantaphon said.