Leo Rolly Carnando / Daniel Marthin reaching their first World Tour semi-final this week at the Thailand Open is the only thing that could rival An Se Young upsetting home favourite Ratchanok Intanon on a super quarter-finals day in Bangkok.
By Don Hearn. Photos: Badmintonphoto (live)
Indonesian youngsters Leo Rolly Carnando and Daniel Marthin have won tournaments before but they’ve never had a result like this! Even before the two were crowned World Junior Champions in 2019, they had already collected an International Challenge and a couple of International Series titles.
On Friday in Bangkok, playing in their first ever World Tour quarter-final, they powered their way past England’s Marcus Ellis / Chris Langridge 12-21, 21-14, 21-15. The Europeans dominated the opening game but the young Indonesians piled on relentless pressure from the start of the second and never looked back.
The decider was marked by constant head games and some nervous serves toward the end but the less experienced pair kept it together for the win.
“We never imagined we’d come this far. Wow!” said Daniel Marthin afterward. “In the match [Ellis/Langridge] had trouble with us delaying, but I felt like they were ones delaying as well, then we couldn’t take the serve.”
“I didn’t want to have big dreams here because if I did, then I’d put myself in a position where, if they didn’t happen, I’d be really disappointed,” commented Leo Rolly Carnando, “so I’m just taking it step by step.”
The Indonesians, currently ranked #70 in the world, had already taken down world #6 compatriots Fajar Alfian / Muhammad Rian Ardianto on Thursday. Next up, they must face Olympic silver medallists Goh V Shem / Tan Wee Kiong of Malaysia for a spot in the final.
Two years ago, An Se Young came to Bangkok to play the first ever Super 500 tournament of her career and she had already made a name for herself by beating the world #1 at the Sudirman Cup. Today, she had a chance not only to erase the memory of her first-round Thailand Open loss, but also to prove that she had what it took to beat Ratchanok Intanon, who had quietly beaten her in Nanning while the news was still getting around about An’s big win the previous day over Tai Tzu Ying.An had not faced Ratchanok since that day in May 2019 but by the time they met today in Bangkok, the Thai veteran was one of just 3 top ten players that An Se Young had never beaten.
As the opening game unfolded, one could see how Ratchanok had the upper hand. An had talked about her nervousness even the previous day when she seemed to cruise through her match against Sirada Roongpiboonsopit. Intanon was precise and confident and raced to an 8-2 lead to get things going.
The young Korean soon found her rhythm, however, and her persistent retrieving and increasingly tight net play forced the Thai favourite to play riskier shots. An soon caught on and began anticipating Intanon’s deceptive crosscourt shots and kept her own play consistent and hung on to snatch the first game 22-20.
By midway through the second, the 18-year-old was floating about the court and Ratchanok found it more and more difficult to put pressure on her.
“I think in the beginning, I played too leisurely,” Ratchanok Intanon said after the match. “I’ve played An Se Young before, but never like this. She came with more speed today. You can see how she had prepared for this match, every shot was incredible and she won on her own game. I tried to push her back and not think about how to play the next shot.”
An Se Young commented, “The last time I played against Ratchanok, I made a lot of errors but this time I was able to reduce the number of errors. I also had my timing right and that allowed me to connect on my smashes so I think that worked well for me today. Also, when I played her that time at the Sudirman Cup, I think I just went out and played but this time, I tried to focus on where she was hitting and to it well so that I was choosing the right placement and I think that helped me to win today.
Next up for An is Olympic gold medallist Carolina Marin. An beat Marin to win the 2019 French Open but the last time they met, a year ago in Indonesia, the Spaniard made quick work of her opponent. An Se Young was still awaiting the outcome of the European’s match when she said, “If I happen to play against Marin in the semi-finals, she is very fast so I can’t caught up in her pace. I just have to stick to my own style, avoid making errors, and I think I can win.”
Thailand lost all three of their competitors in women’s singles on quarter-finals day, in fact. That leaves just Jongkolphan Kititharakul / Rawinda Prajongjai in women’s doubles and mixed doubles top seeds Dechapol Puavaranukroh / Sapsiree Taerattanachai carrying the banner for Thailand on the weekend.
Kititharakul/Prajongjai will be tasked with trying to prevent the last possible one-nation final as two of three Korean pairs survived to the semi-final stage and are keen to set up an all-Korean final.
Meanwhile, Thom Gicquel / Delphine Delrue were the only one of the five European doubles quarter-finalists to make it to the weekend. They had a promising start to 2020 before the entire tour was sidelined by the pandemic but with their straight-game win over Germany’s Lamsfuss/Herttrich, they established their best result so far. They will face All England winners Praveen Jordan / Melati Daeva Oktavianti for a spot in the final.
Korea’s Seo Seung Jae booked not one but two semi-final appearances. The second came virtue of men’s doubles victory over World Champion Ahsan/Setiawan, in which he and Choi Sol Gyu repeated the win that gave them their first ever Super 500 title, just over a year ago.
Click here for complete quarter-final results