Sap­siree to the res­cue after Thai pride smashed

The Nation - - SPORT - LERPONG AMSA-NGIAM

DOU­BLES SPE­CIAL­IST Sap­siree Taer­at­tanachai bounced back from mixed dou­bles de­feat to claim the women’s dou­bles ti­tle with Put­tita Su­pa­ji­rakul yes­ter­day, res­cu­ing na­tional pride after Thai­land lost the women’s sin­gles crown for the first time at the Princess Siri­van­navari Thai­land Mas­ters.

Sap­siree and Dechapol Puavaranukroh, ranked world No 5 in mixed dou­bles, had to set­tle for sil­ver for a sec­ond time here at the Hua Mark In­door Sta­dium, go­ing down to top seeds and de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons Chan Peng Soon and Goh Liu Ying of Malaysia 21-16 21-15. Dechapol has lost in the fi­nal for three suc­ces­sive years, team­ing with Put­tita Su­pa­ji­rakul 12 months ago when Sap­siree was re­cov­er­ing from a knee in­jury.

Sap­siree how­ever re­deemed her pride later yes­ter­day in the women’s dou­bles when she and Put­tita up­ended fifth seeds Li Wen­mei and Zheng Yu of China 15-21 21-15 21-10 for their sec­ond ti­tle, after win­ning the Thai­land Open in 2016.

“I didn’t go for my shots in the mixed dou­bles. I hope that one day I will fi­nally win with Dechapol,” said Sap­siree. “But com­ing back to win the women’s dou­bles is com­pen­sa­tion. I’m tired but the vic­tory made me feel so good.”

Put­tita, a Chu­la­longkorn Univer­sity grad­u­ate, said she and Sap­siree had to dig deep to beat the Chi­nese duo, ranked 60th in the world.

“We’ve never played them be­fore, so it took a while to ad­just to their style. ... It’s amaz­ing feel­ing to win to­gether again,” said the tow­er­ing Put­tita (183cm) in her third come­back tour­na­ment with Sap­siree.

After dom­i­nat­ing the women’s sin­gles in three pre­vi­ous edi­tions, Thai­land lost the ti­tle for the first time when gutsy In­done­sian Fi­tri­ani Fi­tri­ani, 20, upset 2017 cham­pion Bu­sanan Ong­bam­rung­phan 21-12 2114 for first BWF Su­per 300 ti­tle.

Malaysia also reigned supreme in men’s dou­bles when top seeds Goh V Shem and Tan Wee Kiong trounced fifth-seeded Lu Ching Yao and Yang Po Han of Tai­wan 21-13 21-17. It was their first ti­tle to­gether in two years after they won the Su­per Se­ries Fi­nals in Dubai in De­cem­ber 2016.

In the big­gest shock of the tour­na­ment, un­fan­cied qual­i­fier Kean Yew Loh of Malaysia came from be­hind in both games to stun top seed and twotime Olympic cham­pion Lin Dan of China 21-19 21-18 for the big­gest vic­tory of his ca­reer.

“I watched him play when I was young. It was an hon­our to play and fi­nally beat him,” said the 21-year-old, who’s just back from serv­ing two years as a mil­i­tary con­script.

Put­tita Su­pa­ji­rakul and Sap­siree Taerat-tanachai with their gold medals.

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