Doubles aces to spearhead Thai title bid
published : 31 Jan 2023 at 04:00
newspaper section: Sports
Thai women's doubles duo Jongkolphan Kititharakul and Rawinda Prajongjai are now the country's best hope to win a title at this week's Princess Sirivannavari Thailand Masters following late withdrawals.
Thailand's top singles players, Ratchanok Intanon and Kunlavut Vitidsarn, pulled out on the eve of the tournament which begins today.
Former Olympic and world champion Carolina Marin of Spain also withdrew from the US$210,000 Super 300 tournament at Bangkok's Nimibutr Stadium.
Top seeds Jongkolphan and Rawinda are fresh from reaching the Indonesia Masters semi-finals last week.
Jongkolphan and Rawinda meet compatriots Laksika Kanlaha and Phataimas Muenwong in the first round.
However, they could face a tough challenge from their younger compatriots Benyapa Aimsaard and Nuntakarn Aimsaard, who are the second seeds.
The sisters, ranked No.13 in the world, beat Jongkolphan and Rawinda in the Hylo Open final in Germany last year.
"We are ready for the tournament because we did not play last week [at the Indonesia Masters]," said Nuntakarn.
"Our aim is to go as fas as possible in every tournament as this will be vital to our attempt to win a ticket to the 2024 Olympics in Paris."
The sisters will begin their campaign against Francesca Corbett and Allison Lee of the US.
Patama Leeswadtrakul, president of the Badminton Association of Thailand, said while some Thai players have withdrawn from the tournament, the others have vowed to give their best to make the local fans happy with their success.
Tickets starting from 100 baht are available at Thai Ticket Major outlets. The event will be televised live on TrueVisions.