INSPIRED BY an enthusiastic crowd, teenage sensation Kantaphon Wangcharoen toppled Ihsan Maulana Mustofa of Indonesia 21-14 21-13 for his second straight semi-final berth at the Princess Sirivannavari Thailand Masters at the Nimibutr National Stadium.
The 19-year-old rising star, who was supported by several hundred officers from the Royal Thai Air Force, displayed a superior all-court game to finish off his rival in 39 minutes in the men’s singles quarter-finals yesterday.
“I was able to stick to my game plan and avoid putting myself under pressure. I studied his match the night before. He relied on a defensive game more than an attacking one. So I had to go with the flow and I tried not to rush,” said Kantaphon, who lost the final to Tommy Sugiarto of Indonesia at this stadium 12 months ago.
“I didn’t expect to come this far. At the start of the tournament, I even wondered if I would survive the first round. Every win is a bonus for me from now on,” added Kantaphon, who will next take on Leong Jun Hao of Malaysia, the 2017 World Junior Championship silver medallist.
“He is an up and coming player. But I’m quite confident about my game and ready to take a challenge,” said the local teenager.
Royal Thai Air Force officers show their support for local players.
In mixed doubles, two Thai pairs marched into the semi-finals following upset wins. Nipitphon Phuangphuapet and Jongkolphan Kititharakul stunned second-seeded Ronan Labar and Audrey Fontaine of France 21-18 21-15 for their first-ever semi-final outing at a World Grand Prix Gold level event.
But a Herculean task awaits them in today’s semi-final against 2016 Rio Olympic Games silver medallists Chan Peng Soon and Liu Ying Goh of Malaysia. “I was happy to show our good game in front of the fans. But the next round is really tough. We have nothing to lose and we hope we’ll still be in the tournament on Sunday,” said Niphitphon.
“We need to focus on our game plan. If we maintain our standard, anything can happen,” Jongkolphan said.
Puttita and Dechapol
The other winning Thai duo were seventh-seeded Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Puttita Supajirakul who upended fourth-seeded Jacco Arends and Selena Piek of the Netherlands 21-16 21-14. The other mixed doubles semi-final spot was booked by Malaysian Tang Jie Chen and Yen Wei Peck who beat Indonesia’s Akbar Cahyono and Winny Kandow 21-13 21-8.
In women’s singles , top seed Nitchaon Jindapol lived up to her seeded billing as she downed Gregoria Mariska Tunjung of Indonesia 21-12 22-20. Third seeded Pornpawee Chochuwong stemmed the run of talented 16-year-old Pattarasuda Chaiwan 21-16 21-16.
Unfancied Tinn Isriyanet and Kittisak Namdash upset second seeded Fajar Alfian and Muhammad Rian Ardianto of Indonesia 24-22 21-19 to remain the only Thai men's doubles team left in the tournament. This is their first ever World Grand Prix Gold semi-final. Supak Jomkoh and Pakin Kuna-Anuvit went down to third-seeded Goh V Shem and Tan Wee Kiong of Malaysia 25-23 21-6.