April 25, 2017 01:00 By Lerpong Amsa-ngiam The Nation
Former champion Ratchanok Intanon faces a big test in the Badminton Asia Championships when she takes on up and coming Chen Xiaoxin of China in the opening round at the Wuhan Sports Centre Gymnasium tomorrow.
The 2015 winner had to summon her A game against the 18yearold rival, who celebrated her maiden title at the Swiss Open in March and reached the quarterfinal at the Thailand Open in February, when they met the last time.
Since winning three straight Super Series between March and April (India, Malaysia and Singapore) last year, the 22yearold has not found success in recent times. The world No 10 is yet to return to full fitness after twisting her ankle at the Indian Open in March. Ratchanok failed to defend all the three titles and was even eliminated from the first round of Singapore Open two weeks ago.
Four Thai women are in action this week, including Busanan Ongbamrungphan who has an uphill task against 2016 world junior champion Chen Yufei of China. Nitchaon Jindapon faces Indonesia’s Hanna Ramadini and rising star Pornpawee Chochuwong takes on Chiang Meihui of Taiwan.
On the men’s side, Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk will face a player from the qualifying round which starts today.
Thailand’s hopes also rests on the inform mixed doubles team of Sapsiree Taerattanachai and Dechapol Puavaranukroh, who reached their first Super Series final two weeks ago in Singapore. The pair takes on Indonesia’s Ronald Alexander and Melati Daeva Oktavianti in the first round.