NEW DELHI – Reigning world champion Ratchanok Inthanon, who is leading Thailand’s campaign in the ongoing Uber Cup, believes India will be a difficult customer to handle as they have two top players in Saina Nehwal and P V Sindhu in their ranks.
“India is a tough team. Number one and number two of India, Saina and Sindhu are very good and play with a lot of confidence. They are both equally good but have different styles. I played against Sindhu in World Championship, probably she was not confident enough and nervous, but she is a very good player. So I think it will be 50-50 against India,” Ratchanok told reporters.
“I think it is a difficult draw. The teams are tough. But we will give our best. India, Canada and Hong Kong are in our draw. It will be 50-50 against India and Hong Kong. I don’t know much about the doubles but we have a strong doubles pair also. We will look to win all the singles. Every point is important and we will give our best. Our target is the quarterfinals right now,” she added.
Thailand will take on India on Tuesday.
The World No. 4 Thai sensation was plagued by a series of injuries last year and said she is currently low in confidence and doesn’t want to take pressure when she leads Thailand’s campaign in the Uber Cup, which begun at the Siri Fort Complex here on Sunday.
“My confidence is low at this moment. I had a series of injuries in the last one year. I had back injury last year and then other injuries while training. But I will look to play just like when I play in the training. I don’t want to think too much about the tournament,” said the reigning world champion, who withdrew from the India Super Series last month, citing medical reasons.
After becoming the youngest ever and first Thai shuttler to win a World Championships, Ratchanok injured her back that forced her to withdraw from another two super series events, Japan Open and China Master. She didn’t qualify for Super Series Final in Malaysia and finished 2013 as the World No. 3.
The three-time World Junior Champion is familiar with the Siri Fort Complex as it was here that she had defeated Juliane Schenk to win the India Super Series last year and Ratchanok hoped the crowd will support them.
“I have played here and the crowd is good but when we play India, we would be the enemy, so the cheers won’t be for us,” she said.
The badminton prodigy had started playing the sport at a young age when Banthongyod sweet factory owner Kamala Thongkorn had given her a chance to play the game. Ratchanok, whose parents were migrant workers at the sweet factory, soon started making giant strides in the sport and became the youngest-ever champion at the 2009 World Junior championship at the age of 14. She repeated the performance in 2010 and 2011.
After completing a hat-trick of titles in World Junior, she was awarded the Best Female Athlete award in Thailand. She won Yonex Sunrise Syed Modi Memorial India Open and was also a member of the women’s team that defeated Indonesia in the final at the 2011 SEA Games.
Ratchanok failed to win a medal at the London Olympics but now she is eyeing gold at the 2016 Rio de Janiero Olympics.