Cheng Chasing Triple Crown | Thailand Open Challenger

Steven Wai Kit Cheng has an opportunity to become the first Asian player to secure a Triple Crown after a fantastic Saturday at the Thailand Open Challenger.

Cheng won the Men’s Doubles title alongside Tsz Chung Chan before also claiming the Mixed Doubles crown with Tsz Yan Joyce Chan. The Hong Kong star then advanced to the semi-finals in the Men’s A Singles to continue his unbeaten start to this year’s Thailand Open Challenger.

Elsewhere, there were titles for India’s Nikhil Bhandare and Thailand’s Nattawee Sucandharuna on a busy day of action in Pattaya.

Men’s A Doubles – Chan and Cheng Fight Back for Title

After the first three sets were played on Friday, the Men’s A Doubles final resumed on Saturday with the tennis set. Tze Ho Ho and Bryan Leung led by six after a crushing 21-4 squash set. It was looking likely that the pair would leave Pattaya with the title after quickly moving into a 7-4 lead.

But Tsz Chung Chan and Steven Wai Kit Cheng know how to win the Thailand Open Challenger Men’s Doubles title. They’ve done it before, back in 2017’s inaugural tournament. This time they fought back, with a superb second half to win the tennis 21-10.

For the second time, Chan and Cheng are the Thailand Open Men’s Doubles champions, a remarkable achievement. It wouldn’t be a complete Hong Kong lockout on the podium though. Australia’s Leigh Sands and Thailand’s Sathid Sujittapiban beat Jonathan Ho and Bridge Yan Kiu Lam to finish with the bronze medal.

The full Men’s A Doubles results are available here.

Mixed A Doubles – Chan and Cheng Back Up World Championships Success

Steven Wai Kit Cheng was not done with just a Men’s A Doubles trophy. Straight after that final finished he was back on the court alongside Tsz Yan Joyce Chan for the Mixed Doubles final.

Unlike the Men’s Doubles final, this was a much less dramatic affair. Their opponents, Kwan Wun Man and Chung Him Samuel Li did win the table tennis 21-17. That’s where their success ended though.

Chan and Cheng put on a masterclass in the middle two sports, winning 21-5 and 21-8 to wrap up the match without needing their tennis courts. That’s the first elite title for Chan, while Cheng has now put himself within one title of a remarkable Triple Crown – the first seen at the Thailand Open Challenger.

This time, Sands couldn’t prevent a Hong Kong podium lockout. Ho Ching Chan and Tze Ho Ho beat Glenda Ong and Leigh Sands to collect the bronze medal.

The full Mixed A Doubles results are available here.

Men’s A Singles – Cheng Keeps Triple Crown Chances Alive

If Steven Wai Kit Cheng is to win a Triple Crown at the Thailand Open, then he also has to win the Men’s A Singles. In order to do that, he first had to come past Tournament Director Frank Kleiber.

Cheng beat Kleiber by +26 points before tennis, thanks in particular to dominant wins in both table tennis and squash. Kleiber almost won the badminton but was denied as Cheng won 22-20.

Cheng is not the only Hong Kong player in the semi-finals. Bridge Yan Kiu Lam produced a flawless performance to knock out top-seeded German Christian Börner. Lam will take on Mandrin Mouchet in the semi-finals.

On his return from a long injury layoff, Mouchet managed to get a tough victory over Tze Ho Ho. The Frenchman looked in full control of the match after badminton but a tough 21-2 squash set gave Ho Ho a chance. Mouchet won the tennis 15-11 to book himself a spot in the semi-finals.

In the bottom half of the draw, Cheng will take on Australia’s Leigh Sands. Sands reached the semi-finals here back in 2019, losing to eventual champion Arnaud Genin before finishing third. Could he go one better in 2023 and reach the final?

The full Men’s A Singles results are available here.

Women’s Singles – Joyce Chan in Command After Day One

After her triumph in the Mixed Doubles earlier in the day, Tsz Yan Joyce Chan continued her fine form in the Women’s Singles category.

The Hong Kong talent played two matches on Saturday, winning both without needing her tennis racket. The first win came over fellow countrywoman Kwan Wun Man as she won all three sets. That was followed by a crushing win over top seed Glenda Ong.

Those two victories see Chan top the table at the end of day one, with matches against Wan Yin Lui and Ho Ching Chan still to come on Sunday. Despite losing to Chan, Kwan Wun Man sits second in the table after wins against Ho Ching Chan and Wan Yiu Lui.

Lui is currently third with one win and one loss with Ho Ching Chan in fourth and Glenda Ong in fifth.

The full Women’s Singles results are available here.

Seniors +45 Singles – Bhandare Wraps Up Superb Title on Debut

We mentioned in Friday’s report that Nikhil Bhandare had made a superb start to his international racketlon career. The Indian debutant had beaten both Nattawee Sucandharuna and Bernhard Wiedenhofer on Friday to leave him just one win away from the trophy.

Standing in his way was Denmark’s Per Franklin Nielsen. After badminton, it looked like the title could be slipping away from Bhandare. He trailed by seven points before serving up a squash masterclass, winning 21-2 to fly into the lead. Needing 10 points on the tennis court, Bhandare delivered, winning 10-5 for victory.

A superb debut title for Bhandare who had further success on Saturday in the Doubles. That loss for Nielsen left him with a bronze medal after Sucandharuna beat Austria’s Bernhard Wiedenhofer to take silver.

Nikhil Bhandare wins the Seniors +45 Singles title (Image: Leigh Sands)

The full Seniors +45 Singles results are available here.

Seniors +45 Doubles – Perfect Debut for Bhandare as he Completes the Doubles

Six matches, six victories. That is the perfect way to finish your first racketlon tournament. That is exactly what Nikhil Bhandare achieved after teaming up with Nattawee Sucandharuna in the Seniors +45 Doubles.

The duo were in a good position heading to Saturday after a Friday afternoon win over top seeds Christian Börner and Frank Kleiber. They took a step closer to the title with an early morning victory over Manish Mahajan and Gourav Rakshit, winning the last three sets to single figures.

The title became there’s shortly before midday. Their final match against Adrian Ng and Timothy Sze was the tightest of their campaign. They led by just seven points after squash but won a superb tennis set 14-5 in the Thailand sunshine.

That loss for Ng and Sze meant they missed out on a spot on the podium. Bhandare and Sucandharuna stood at the top, with Börner and Kleiber taking the silver medal and Mahajan and Rakshit winning the bronze.

Image: Leigh Sands

The full Seniors +45 Doubles results are available here.

Men’s C Singles – Chan Wraps Up Title on Superb Saturday

There may be three matches still to play in the Men’s C Singles Box League on Sunday but they won’t affect who wins gold. That honour will go to Tsz Chung Chan, who has already won four of his matches to clinch the title.

Chan played three singles matches on Saturday. Two of those matches ended up being victories before tennis; +29 against Jonathan Ho and +38 against Timothy Sze. Great Britain’s Adrian Ng posed the biggest challenge to Chan after winning the squash 21-8 in their match. It still wasn’t enough to win though, with Chan wrapping up a +16 victory on the tennis court.

The silver medal and bronze medal are both very much still to play for. Jonathan Ho will secure it if he beats Adrian Ng on Sunday as he already has two victories. However, Ng can get himself into the hunt if he beats Timothy Sze and Ho on Sunday. Thailand’s Thanapol Watanapreecha will have to rely on results to go his way and a potential Gummiarm Playoff if he’ to grab the silver medal.

The full Men’s C Singles results are available here.

Men’s B Singles – Sujittapiban Wins Title With One Match to Play

Two of the best matches on Saturday came in the Men’s B Singles. The two matches were decided by +3 and +4 points, with the outcome guaranteeing that Sathid Sujittapiban will win the title.

That’s because the Thai played kicked off the action on Saturday with a dominant win over American debutant Mikhail Kazantsev. In a Hong Kong derby, Bryan Leung beat Man Cheong Pang to set up a potential title decider with Sujittapiban in the second round of matches.

Despite trailing by three points heading into the tennis, Sujittapiban managed to produced a splendid comeback. The Thai player held his nerve on home soil to beat Leung 21-15 and win the match by just three points overall.

On the neighbouring court, Kazantsev fought off a late Pang comeback to win their match by four points. A crushing 21-1 table tennis victory for the former table tennis star was enough for Kazantsev to secure a +4 victory overall.

That means that Sujittapiban will be crowned the Thailand Open Challenge Men’s B Singles champion, even if he loses to Pang on Sunday. Leung and Kazantsev will battle for the silver medal, with the loser taking the final spot on the podium.

The full Men’s B Singles results are available here.

Follow all the results from Sunday at the Thailand Open Challenger here.

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Sam Barker / FIR Media Officer

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