The shots which Inthanon Ratchanok bombarded her opponent with, one did not expect them to come from a 17-year-old. But then, this is no ordinary teenager. The petite shuttler from Thailand had the distinction of being the world junior champion for three years in a row (2009-11), which is a record.
The junior days behind her, she is ranked 10th in the world, and to achieve the ranking at such a young age, Ratchanok has played in over 24 tournaments over the last 12 months. For the uninitiated, a shuttler in top-20 usually plays 12-14 tournaments in a year.
Too much strain
This hectic play-athon was the reason she suffered a foot injury a month ago, which surfaced again on Wednesday at the Siri Fort Sports Complex. She was leading 23-21, 18-10 when disaster struck and had to retire from the first round with the score reading 23-21, 19-21, 11-6.
“Yes, I think I play too many tournaments, the schedule is too tight, especially for someone as young as me. This has made my condition worse,” Ratchanok said after the match.
She has not won a tournament after the victory in the Syed Modi Grand Prix Gold in Lucknow last year and blames the dry run to frequent travel.
Hailing from a modest background, she found mentors to support her. And playing more tournaments translated into “making more money”.
Ratchanok said she had informed her federation that she wanted to rest and recover from her injury. Yet, she was asked to participate in the Australian Open GP and India Open. “They wanted me to play more tournaments so that I get a good seeding in the London Olympics,” she said.As the Olympic qualification period ends with the India Open, she’ll finally take a few weeks off.