Vietnam's top badminton player beats Thai prodigy

By Lam Thoa   March 12, 2023 | 12:33 am PT
Vietnam's top badminton player beats Thai prodigy
Vietnam's number one badminton player Nguyen Thuy Linh. Photo by VnExpress/Lam Thoa
The number one female badminton player in Vietnam Nguyen Thuy Linh defeated Opatniputh Pitchamon 2-1 to advance to the final of Thailand International Challenger.

Pitchamon, 17, nicknamed Pink, is considered a prodigy by the Thai badminton world.

She’s currently 79th in the world rankings while Linh is 49th.

In the semifinals of the Thailand International Challenger on Saturday night, Pitchamon had the support of home fans and didn’t give Linh an easy match.

In the first set, Linh took a good lead to start. But Pitchamon patiently closed in on Linh, first equalizing at 12-12. And then in no time, she led 15-13.

Linh took a short pause to tie her hair. She came back stronger, scoring four consecutive points to make it 14-17. Then she accumulated the momentum to equalize again.

The score kept switching back and forth between the two phenoms. Linh missed a set point at 20-19. But she then rallied to win 27-25 in the first set.

The Vietnamese ace couldn’t maintain her form in the second set and she missed many shots. Pitchamon used this to her advantage and won 21-18.

In the third and final set, Pitchamon had a rough start and Linh led 4-0. When the score was 5-2, Pitchamon hit the shuttlecock out of the court but the referee still gave her the point. Linh was against this decision but couldn’t change it because the tournament doesn’t use technology to view the incident on replay.

After that, Linh and Pitchamon gave the audience a good show with a chase on the scoreboard. In the moments of the set, Linh showed her fighting spirit, surging all the way from 16 points to win the game 21-17.

Linh will face Japan’s Takahashi Asuka in the final.

Linh became Vietnam’s top female badminton player in 2018. As 42nd in the 2019 world rankings, she claimed a ticket to Olympic Tokyo a year later.

The 2023 Thailand International Challenger Mar. 7-12, has included 200 athletes competing in five events. The prize pool for the tournament is $15,000. The winner will get $1,200 in the singles event and $1,350 in the doubles event.

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