Positive signs for Singapore shuttler Yeo Jia Min despite defeat
Singapore shuttler Yeo closing the gap on Thailand's former world champion Ratchanok
Singapore's top female shuttler Yeo Jia Min suffered her third straight defeat against former world champion Ratchanok Intanon at the Yonex Thailand Open yesterday, but there was some cause for optimism.
Despite her 21-15, 21-15 first-round defeat at the Impact Arena in Bangkok, the 21-year-old scored more points in total (30) and stretched the match longer (42 minutes) than her previous two meetings with the world No. 5, who is four years older.
World No. 26 Yeo told The New Paper: "I feel that there were things (I did) better than the last match against her in the World Champs.
"There is more to improve on (in terms of) gaining advantage during rallies to use my strengths more... Looking back, I could have taken more initiative to attack. That would have helped me do better in the match."
National singles coach Kelvin Ho added: "She can match the speed of all the top players, but there is room for her to improve further in the areas of decision-making in her choice of shots, awareness on court and general consistency."
Yesterday's match was Yeo's first since last March, as Covid-19 disrupted the international badminton circuit.
Her previous encounters with Ratchanok in 2019 saw her succumb 21-7, 21-12 at the German Open quarter-finals in 30 minutes and at the same stage of the World Championships, where she lost 21-17, 21-11 in 41 minutes.
While Yeo battled admirably to keep the scores relatively close yesterday - she was just 9-11 and 10-11 down at the midway point of both sets and twice 15-18 down close to the end - it was Ratchanok who dominated proceedings.
Many of the Singaporean's points came from the Thai's errors, but when the former world champion got things right, it was sometimes hard for Yeo to telegraph Ratchanok's impressive range of disguised shots.
Yeo's exit also ended Singapore's participation at the Yonex Thailand Open.
On Tuesday, men's world No. 38 Loh Kean Yew lost 13-21, 21-10, 21-16 to world No. 7 Jonatan Christie, while women's doubles pair Crystal Wong and Jin Yujia were defeated 12-21, 21-15, 21-18 by Thailand's Laksika Kanlaha and Atitaya Povanon.
The quartet will remain in the Thai capital to compete in next week's Toyota Thailand Open.
India's former women's world No. 1 Saina Nehwal and compatriot H.S. Prannoy both were in action at the Yonex Thailand Open yesterday, after receiving clearance to play as their positive Covid-19 diagnoses were deemed as old infections on Tuesday. Nehwal beat Kisona Selvaduray 21-15, 21-15, while Prannoy lost 13-21, 21-14, 21-8 to world No. 10 Lee Zii Jia.
The Badminton World Federation yesterday said a German coach and a team entourage member from France had tested positive and are in hospital for further observation and testing.
Said Yeo: "The incubation period for Covid can last for days, so we really won't know if anyone here has it, even if they have tested negative... We can only... do what we can, and not to interact with (players from) other countries."