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Badminton: Ratchanok ready to create ‘new history’ in final with World No. 1 Li

Ratchanok Inthanon beat fellow 18-year-old PV Sindhu to reach her first World Championships final.

Ratchanok Inthanon beat fellow 18-year-old PV Sindhu to reach her first World Championships final.

 

August 10, 2013: Ratchanok Inthanon will attempt to win Thailand’s first-ever gold at the BWF World Championships when the 18-year-old faces World No. 1 Li Xuerui in the women’s singles final in Guangzhou on Sunday.

 

Li Xuerui was dominant in her semi-final against Bae Yeon-ju.

Li Xuerui was dominant in her semi-final against Bae Yeon-ju.

Li, who has only conceded more than 13 points in a game once during the tournament, crushed Korean Bae Yeon-ju 21-5, 21-11 in the first semi-final as the 22-year-old Chinese bids to add a World Championships title to last year’s Olympic gold.

 

Ratchanok, the current World No. 3, joined Li in the final after a 21-10, 21-13 win over fellow 18-year-old PV Sindhu, the rising Indian star who knocked out defending champion Wang Yihan and fellow Chinese Wang Shixian.

 

“This is good news for Thailand and I know the people there support me,” said Ratchanok, winner of three BWF World Junior Championships titles from 2009-11.

 

“If I win, it will make new history for Thailand, so I hope I can be successful. I need to play with confidence, because she has more experience. I have to be strong and consistently play at my best, then I will think it will be a tough match.”

 

Ratchanok, who won her first Super Series title in India this year, has not beaten Li since the 2011 US Open, the first time they played each other.

 

Ratchanok is hoping to create ‘new history’ for Thailand.

Ratchanok is hoping to create ‘new history’ for Thailand.

“After the US Open, she came back again and she was stronger. Her style had changed and I haven’t been able to beat her since,” said Ratchanok, who reached the quarter-finals at last year’s Olympics as a 17-year-old.

 

Ratchanok was pushed to three games by Singapore’s Gu Juan in the second round and Spain’s Carolina Marin in the quarters, but had the measure of Sindhu from the start of their match.

 

“I think she was nervous and didn’t play as well as normal. I like to play with her and know how to play against her, but I needed to play my best because she had already beaten Wang Yihan and Wang Shixian,” Ratchanok said.

 

“I’ve had a slight injury in the last couple of months, so before I came here I was hoping to reach the quarter-final. I’m happy with how I’ve done so far.”

 

Sindhu has also established herself as a potential star of the game after a stunning tournament in which she recorded 2-0 wins over former World No. 1 Wang Yihan and Wang Shixian, the second and seventh seeds respectively.

 

PV Sindhu, 18, enjoyed a great tournament, knocking out Wang Yihan.

PV Sindhu, 18, enjoyed a great tournament, knocking out Wang Yihan.

However, the long-limbed teenager, whose parents were both volleyball players, was always second best on Saturday.

 

“She played well, but I’m a bit disappointed because I made too many errors, hit too many shots out, both at the sides and the back. She took a huge lead in both games and by the time we were going one for one, it was too late,” Sindhu said.

 

“She has powerful shots and good strokes, and I think she’s going to play well in the final. It’s going to be a tough match and I think it’s anyone’s game.”

 

Although Li is bidding to win the women’s singles and Lin Dan the men’s, China can’t repeat the clean sweep of five gold medals they achieved at last year’s Olympics and the past two World Championships in 2010 and 2011.

 

Cai Yun and Fu Caifeng, China’s last pair in the men’s doubles, lost 21-19, 21-17 in the semis to Indonesian duo Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan.

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