HCM CITY — Vietnamese badminton ace Nguyen Tien Minh shrugged off Thai Thammasin Sitthikom’s confidence and determination in the first set to claim the match in straight sets.
The victory gave Viet Nam’s No 1 player a place in the second round at the Yonex Sunrise Viet Nam GP Open 2014 at the Phan Dinh Phung Indoor Stadium in HCM City and kept him on track to win a record five titles.
Minh, seeded only third at the tournament after falling sharply to 30th place in the world rankings, will face Mahbub Thomi Azizan of Indonesia in the second round today. Azizan beat Vietnamese Nguyen Dinh Tuan Kiet 21-13, 21-15 in the first round.
The 31-year-old seemed to have not yet recovered from his long flight back from the World Badminton Championship in Denmark, where he failed to defend his bronze medal following an exit at the third round. He had a rusty start, trailing early in the first set. Unseeded Sitthikom looked composed and confident in the early stages of the first set and led throughout most of the set.
However, Minh, who did not expect a tough match, tied the score 15-15 by stepping up his efforts. Upping his game with quick shots and powerful smashes, the Vietnamese player won four successive points to lead 19-15. Sitthikom pulled back two points before hitting the shuttle out to surrender the set at 21-17.
The second half was the complete opposite, with Minh claiming the set at 21-7 after just half of the time he needed to beat the opponent in the first set.
It was a set showcasing Minh’s typical playing style with quick shots, quick movements and lightning powerful smashes. Sitthikom was unable to maintain his accuracy.
Minh’s potential semi-final opponent, top seed Dionysius Hayom Rumbaka from Indonesia, proved his title credibility by making light work of his first round with a crushing 21-10, 21-5 win over Malaysian Wei Jian Ai.
Other seeded players, Ajay Jayaram of India and Mohammad Arif Abdul Latif of Malaysia, also had their names on the list for the second round.