All of the country’s badminton stars except world No 8 Ratchanok Intanon will be in action in the US$150,000 Princess Sirivannavari Thailand Masters Presented by Toyota at the Hua Mark Indoor Stadium in Bangkok from January 8 to 13.
Ratchanok will have to skip the World Super 300 event to keep herself fresh when she defends her title at the Super 500 Malaysia Masters as defending champion the following week. She also has points to defend immediately afterwards at the Indonesia Masters, when she where finished runner-up last year.
The rest of Thailand’s star players, including defending women’s singles champion Nitchaon Jindapol, will test their mettle in the BWF’s 2019 season-opening tournament which is being moved from Supachalasai National Stadium to Hua Mark for the first time.
Nitchaon toppled Pornpawee Chochuwong in an all-Thai clash in January to become the third successive Thai champion in the event, following Ratchanok (2016) and Busanan Ongbamrungphan (2017).
On the men’s side, all of the Kingdom’s top players, led by world No16 Khosit Phetpradab, No 17 Kantaphon Wangcharoen and two-time world junior champion Kunlavut Vitidsarn, will try to become the first Thai man to win the Masters title.
Kantaphon is the only Thai to even reach the men’s final -–he lost to Tommy Sugiarto of Indonesia, the two-time defending champion, in 2017.
Double Olympic champion and former world No1 Lin Dan of China will also compete and will be aiming to capture his second title in Bangkok after the 2008 Thailand Open.
World No8 Rawinda Prajongjai and Jongkolphan Kititharakul will lead the Thai challenge in the women’s doubles, which they won earlier this year. In the men’s doubles Tinn Isriyanet who partnered Kittisak Namdash in January may have to find a new partner as Kittisak is still recovering from a knee injury.
Badminton Association of Thailand president Khunying Patama Leeswadtrakul said the 2019 edition would remain focused of providing entertainment by using state-of-the-art technology to back up the court action.
A new feature called the Screen Badminton Zone will be added, providing fans with a 3D experience of