In-form Kantaphon Wangcharoen celebrated his rise to Thai No 1 with a 21-11 21-9 second-round victory over 2013 semi-finalist Sitthikom Thamasin at the Toyota Thailand Open on Thursday.
The 19-year-old rose to No 22 in the world this week, a career-high ranking and taking him past Khosit Phetpradab, who dropped to No 25.
“I’m very excited as this is the highest I’ve been. It’s a dream come true to become the No 1 player in Thailand but my goal is to reach the top 20,” said Kantaphon, who now has back-to-back quarter finals after also reaching the last eight in Jakarta last week.
But the teenager will have to summon all efforts in Friday's quarter-final showdown with long-standing rival Tommy Sugiarto of Indonesia, who beat him in the final of the 2017 Princess Cup here and at the Malaysia Open two weeks ago.
“I’m confident that I can make a difference this time. I have to be really focused as the last two times I lost to him I lost my concentration,” Kantaphon said.
Reigning Princess Cup champion Sugiarto extended his unbeaten record at the Nimibutr National Stadium to 7-0 this year as he ousted local hope Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk, the 2016 champion, 19-21 21-18 21-16.
“I had to push myself more. Even though I lost the first game, I knew I still had a chance to come back in the second and third games,” said the 30-year-old from Jakarta.
Sugiarto who started the year in style, beating Malaysian young gun Leong Jun Hao for the Princess Cup crown, hasn’t yet started thinking about winning his second title in Bangkok.
“I just take it one step at a time and focus on the quarter-final match first. I have been lucky just a bit,” added the world No 15.
Joining Kantaphon in the last eights are Khosit who beat Briton Rajeev Ouseph 23-21 21-13 and Suppanyu Avihingsanon who ousted Lee Zii Jia of Malaysia 21-18 21-12.
On the women’s side, Thai hopes Pornpawee Chochuwong and last year’s runner-up Busanan Ongbamrungphan crashed out in the second round, meaning no Thai presence left in the singles.
Pornpawee failed to maintain the Giant’s Killer’s form that she put on to upset the World champion Nozomi Okuhara of Japan two weeks ago in Malaysia as she lost to the fourth seed 21-18 21-15. Busanan became the last Thai woman to be eliminated from the draw, losing to world No 13 Michelle Li of Canada 15-21 21-12 21-19.
Mixed doubles hopes Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai moved forward, however, beating Mak Hee Chun and Yeung Nga Ting of Hong Kong 21-17 21-13.