[BADMINTON] Boonsak Ponsana, fresh from a second-place finish at the Thailand Open Gold Grand Prix, leads the Thai challenge in the China Open Super Series, which starts today at Sichuan Provincial Gymnasium.
The world No 10 and 2004 Thailand Open champion and the mixed duo of Sudket Prapakamol and Saralee Thoungthongkam left yesterday for the five-day tournament, a final tune-up for the Thai players before the Bangkok Universiade from August 8-18.
Initially, the Badminton Association of Thailand planned to field six players in the main draw of the US$250,000 (Bt8.5 million) event, but officials decided to drop Duang-anong Aroonkesorn and Kunchala Voravichitchaikul in the women's doubles and Songphon Anugritayawan, who was due to partner Kunchala in the mixed doubles, shortly ahead of the trip to China.
Boonsak, who lost a hard-fought, three-game thriller to Chen Hong in the final clash on home soil on Sunday, is unseeded in the star-studded tournament. According to the main draw, Boonsak is due to take on fourth-seeded Chen Jin of China in the first round tomorrow.
Chen, whom he beat in the Thailand Open semi-finals on Saturday, is now ranked fourth in the world after clinching the Swiss Open Super Series early this year.
If Boonsak can overcome Chen, an uphill task still awaits him as he next has to face the winner of the match between world No 12 Shoji Sato from Japan and Malaysian Muhd Hafiz B Hashim. Hashim proved his talent by winning the 2005 Thailand Open and the 2003 All-England title.
Meanwhile, the Sudket-Saralee pairing, fourth seeds and ranked fifth in the world, will have a more comfortable job by facing qualifiers in the first round. A win would give the Thai duo a meeting with France's Elodie Eymard and Svetoslav Stoyanov, who walked over the withdrawn Kunchala and Songphon of Thailand.
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