Badminton: Thailand's Ratchanok Intanon conquers Indian star Sindhu to keep hopes alive

Ratchanok Intanon found her killer instinct and mounted a successful comeback, winning 21-18 for the first game. PHOTO: AFP

BANGKOK (AFP) - Former world No. 1 Ratchanok Intanon landed a crucial victory over Indian star P. V. Sindhu at badminton's World Tour Finals in Bangkok on Thursday (Jan 28) to revive her last-four chances.

It was a double victory for Thailand's hopes, as the unheralded Pornpawee Chochuwong booked a semi-final spot after a shock win over Chinese Taipei's top-ranked Tai Tzu-ying.

Ratchanok trailed for most of the first game but the ballerina of badminton found her killer instinct and mounted a successful comeback, winning 21-18.

In the second game, the 25-year-old Thai won 21-13 to claim the match.

"I just want to keep going and focus on winning, point-by-point," Ratchanok said afterwards, while Sindhu said: "It wasn't my day.

"Losing the first game made the difference. My timing was a bit off, so a bit disappointed."

Both players were coming off an initial loss in the round-robin stage; Tai beat Sindhu, the Rio Olympics silver medallist, in a three-game thriller on Wednesday.

Fifth seed Intanon was also upset in three games on Wednesday by Pornpawee.

The already eliminated Sindhu, 25, will on Friday face the in-form Pornpawee, while Ratchanok will have a challenging contest playing Tai, with the winner taking the other semi-final spot from Group B.

Pornpawee, 22, went into her match having never won a game against Tai in previous encounters, but won 21-17, 21-11 in 37 minutes.

Earlier on Thursday, Spain's reigning Olympic champion Carolina Marin, looking for a hat-trick of titles, marched towards a swift victory over Canada's 10th-ranked Michelle Li 21-16, 21-13.

"I think I keep getting better and better," Marin said.

"I'm better than yesterday for sure. After a month here (in Bangkok), it's tough mentally, I've had two finals in a row, then I'm having to prepare myself again to play in a new tournament this week."

In the men's singles, Chinese Taipei's 12th-ranked Wang Tzu-wei was victorious over India's 14th-ranked Srikanth Kidambi in a three-game match that went for 78 minutes, finishing 19-21, 21-9, 21-19.

The delayed 2020 season finale is the third tournament behind closed doors in three weeks in Bangkok, as badminton resumes after months of coronavirus cancellations.

The top eight players in all singles and doubles disciplines are contesting this week's tournament, although China and Japan are absent because of coronavirus problems.

Despite the strict biosecurity arrangements, four people inside the tournament "bubble" have tested positive, including two players who were forced to withdraw.

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