by Ian Marshall, Editor
Suthasini Sawettabut progressed to the third round of the women’s singles event as her status predicted, she accounted for Yuan Jia Nan of France (11-7, 11-8, 11-8, 11-9) before overcoming Spain’s Maria Xiao, the no.21 seed (2-11, 13-11, 11-2, 11-7, 11-5).
Whatever world rankings may read, they were most worthy wins; at the recent 2020 ITTF World Team Qualification tournament in Gondomar, Maria Xiao lost just one match; similarly in singles contests it was very much the same for Yuan Jian Nan; just one reverse.
Restored family pride
Somewhat differently the performance of Jinnipa Sawettabut, 19 years of age, was contrary to expectations. In the opening round she caused the host nation heartache. She beat Shao Jieni, the no.20 seed (16-14, 11-9, 12-10, 3-11, 8-11, 9-11, 11-9) and restored family pride.
Last November in Batam, Shao Jieni had beaten Suthasini Sawettabut in the final of the women’s singles event at the 2019 ITTF Challenge Indonesia Open.
“This was my first time to play against Jieni. She is a difficult player for me. I prepared for the match by watching and analysing videos of her past matches. I told myself to stay calm during the match, keep moving and play point by point. My game plan involved varying my play, changing the rhythm of the match, moving her around the table. It was a very close match. Of course I am very happy with the outcome!” Jinnipa Sawettabut
Alas for Jinnipa Sawettabut, there was defeat in the next round but she had the toughest draw of all; she was beaten by Japan’s Kasumi Ishikawa, the top seed (12-10, 11-3, 11-4, 11-6).
Reflect with pride
Nevertheless, Jinnipa Sawettabut could reflect on her efforts with pride but the member of the Thailand team who could reflect with the greatest pride was Nanthana Komwong. Like Jinnipa Sawettabut required to qualify, she accounted Switzerland’s Rachel Moret, the no.25 seed (11-8, 11-8, 11-13, 11-8, 12-14, 11-3), before causing one of the biggest upsets of the day.
She ousted Chinese Taipei’s Chen Szu-Yu, the no.5 seed (14-12, 11-9, 9-11, 11-7, 9-11, 8-11, 11-5) and once again underlined her liking for players who had excelled at last month’s ITTF World Team Qualification.
Chen Szu-Yu in the one match she had been required to compete was the one player to inflict defeat on Yuan Jian Nan.
Performances that excelled expectations, for the one further member of the Thailand women’s contingent present in Lisbon, life was as expected. Orawan Paranang, 22 years old and the no.27 seed, following an opening round success against Aikaterini Toliou (12-10, 11-9, 11-8, 11-8), experienced defeat at the hands of Germany’s Shan Xiaona, the no.16 seed (13-11, 11-2, 11-5, 11-2).
However, medal hopes remain alive for Orawan Paranang, partnering Suthasini Sawettabut, the no.4 seeds, they recorded an opening round win against Russia’s Kristina Kazantseva and Mariia Tailakova (11-8, 11-5, 11-6).
Performances bode well for Busan
Good form from the Thai duo, very much the same form as was on show on home soil in 2018 at the ITTF Challenge Series tournament in Bangkok; they emerged the winners beating Japan’s Satsuki Odo and Saki Shibata in the final. Following that defeat, Satsuki Odo and Saki Shibata have won six ITTF Challenge Series women’s doubles titles; in Lisbon they emerged successful in their opening round contest. Could there be a Bangkok repeat in Lisbon?
One thing is certain; Nanthana Komwong and Orawan Paranang alongside Jinnipa and Suthasini Sawettabut make a formidable combination and they could well upset the order at the forthcoming Hana Bank 2020 World Team Championships in Busan.
They form the Thailand outfit that will compete in the Championship Division, they are the no.19 seeds.