Mixed pair seek back-to-back titles
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Mixed pair seek back-to-back titles

Kunlavut, Ratchanok chase glory at home

Sapsiree Taerattanachai, left, and Dechapol Puavaranukroh take part in a training session. (Photo supplied)
Sapsiree Taerattanachai, left, and Dechapol Puavaranukroh take part in a training session. (Photo supplied)

Several local stars, led by mixed doubles duo Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai, will be bidding for the top honours at this week's Thailand Open.

The main draw of World Tour Super 500 title begins on Wednesday at Indoor Stadium, Hua Mark.

Apart from Dechapol and Sapsiree, other Thai players who are seen as title contenders in the US$420,000 event include Ratchanok Intanon and Pornpawee Chochuwong in the women's singles, Kunlavut Vitidsarn in the men's singles, and Jongkolphan Kititharakul and Rawinda Prajongjai in the women's doubles.

Dechapol and Sapsiree will be chasing back-to-back titles after their victory at the Malaysia Masters, also a Super 500 tournament, on Sunday.

"The win in Malaysia has boosted our confidence in the Thailand Open," Sapsiree said.

"I am 100 percent fit and ready to play. Our aim is to reach the final."

Dechapol also said they had regained confidence following the triumph in Kuala Lumpur.

The duo, who are the top seeds this week, lost in the final on home soil last year after winning the title the year before.

They will meet Mark Lamsfuss sand Isabel Lohau of Germany in the first round on Wednesday.

World No.5 Kunvalut is the second seed behind Taiwan's Chou Tien-chen.

The Thai will begin his campaign against India's Mithun Manjunath.

"My physical condition is 100 percent. I will play at home so I will give my all for the fans," Kunvalut said. "My aim is to reach at least the quarter-finals."

World No.8 Ratchanok was confident that she would get past the first round.

"I still have confidence in myself although there are a lot of young players who are very strong," she said.

Ratchanok will face China's Gao Fangjie in the opening round.

South Korea's An Se-Young is the top seed as the women's singles competition also features Spain's Carolina Marin, China's He Bingjiao and India's PV Sindhu.

Unfortunately, Denmark's Anders Antonsen, Japan's Kento Momota and China's Chen Yufei have withdrawn from the event.

Meanwhile, Thailand and South Korea on Tuesday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to develop the sport.

The MoU was signed by Badminton Association of Thailand president Patama Leeswadtrakul and Badminton Korea Association vice president Kim Jong-Soo and Gwangju City Badminton Association chief Hong Sung-gil.

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