The local Thai contingent last night ensured star billing on finals day as Dechapol Puavaranukroh/Sapsiree Taerattanachai and Benyapa and Nuntakarn Aimsaard scored memorable semifinal victories for their adoring fans at the HSBC BWF World Tour Finals 2022.
The defending mixed doubles champions fought hard against Indonesia’s Rinov Rivaldy/Pitha Haningtyas Mentari clinching a 24-22 16-21 21-14 result in 73 minutes. The match had it all with including a 62-shot rally at 17-17 in the first game which commentator Gill Clark declared rally of the tournament.
Puavaranukroh said afterwards: “Today’s match was really tough. We were patient. I think it came down to who was going to leave it to smash first, that was crucial and that’s where the pressure was. The third game was fast, and that was good for us because we put pressure on the Indonesians. We knew if we could play fast we’d be better off in the end.”
Taerattanachai added: “They have changed from when we played them a year ago. They’re much stronger. I thought they were brilliant today. It doesn’t really matter what happens tomorrow. We just want to do our best, though I’m not sure I’ll be able to sleep with all the excitement. But playing at home is a big advantage and we want to use the crowd to motivate ourselves throughout the match.”
It could be double delight for the hosts, with the Aimsaard sisters facing world champions Chen Qing Chen and Jia Yi Fan. For Benyapa and Nuntakarn, just the thought of playing in the biggest final of their careers was a pleasant surprise.
“This is totally unexpected to make it to the final. We came into the competition just wanting to play the best we could and so we have fought for every point. Each match here in Bangkok has been a struggle and we’re really grateful to reach the final,” said Nuntakarn
The sisters held their form from Friday’s win over the Koreans despite feeling the added nerves.
“We felt the pressure coming into the match and knew the Korean pair would adjust themselves a little bit. We couldn’t let them attack us, and we needed to control things and play with fewer mistakes. We think we played the same as yesterday, but the circumstances were a little different because we were feeling the pressure, so it was important to control the shuttle in the match,” Nuntakarn added.