Thai teen sensation Inthanon Ratchanok stunned spectators in Shanghai on Thursday, taking under an hour to slay the China Open’s top women’s singles seed Wang Shixian 21-18, 21-19 in her own backyard.
“I’m very happy because I can fight and can beat number one in the world right now,” said the two-time World Junior Champion, who just picked up her second title two months ago in Taipei.
Her win was also a welcome piece of good news for Thailand and Ratchanok’s hometown Bangkok, which is now besieged by a flooding crisis.
As the stadium bellowed “I Believe I Can Fly”, Ratchanok said the first people she wanted to win for were her mother and father, who, along with her younger brother, are struggling in a home filled with water.
“They use their boat going out, and take some food and bring it back home,” she said, through her coach and translator Song Pol, a badminton legend in his own right.
A deflated Wang said she had been struggling with her confidence going into the match, after a series of defeats leading up to the China Open.
“I’m a little bit confused about myself right now,” she confessed, “I’m not patient and that’s why I lost the match. Recently I’ve lost many matches to foreign players so it’s had some impact on my confidence.”
In other women’s singles matches, Wang’s compatriot Yao Xue brought smiles back to the home crowd when she ousted seventh seed Tine Baun of Denmark 21-14, 14-21, 21-11.
But Denmark got a boost from Jan O Jorgensen in the men’s singles, after he knocked out seventh-seed from Vietnam’s Tien Minh Nguyen to book a place in the quarterfinals, 13-21, 21-15, 21-16.
Tournament first seed and Olympic Gold Medalist Lee Chong Wei also moved up as he beat Kenichi Tago of Japan in straight sets 21-9, 21-7.
“I feel OK today. It is the second match I play is better,” said Lee, who waved to a cheering audience before leaving the court.