The Thai found it hard to repel Cheah’s attacking game through most of the first two games, and at 17-all the Malaysian was a few points away from the biggest upset of the event so far. But after Intanon squeezed through in the second game, Cheah fell behind.
Intanon was relieved to have come through a difficult test.
“It’s always a bit of a challenge with myself when I play in big tournaments. I need to play my best and I’m thinking of the pressure all the time, trying to control myself on every point.
“In the second game I felt: ‘Don’t think too much.’ Because on the day if Cheah is better than me, I have to be okay with that because she prepared well and she was in control of some shots and I didn’t get it play my way all the time. I feel I happy I won but I didn’t feel good about the way I played.
“I’m getting older. It’s hard in women’s singles, it’s almost like men’s singles, as it’s fast and it’s not always rallying style. There’s not as much pressure on me like the last two Olympics.”
Her vanquished opponent praised Intanon.
“Today, both of us put up a good match and I feel really proud about myself because I managed to stand on an Olympic stage. It took me a long period of time to get here. I would like to applaud Ratchanok because she managed the pressure and turned around the match.
“I feel really sorry for my parents, my family, my friends and my fans because they have given me a lot of support but I couldn’t win the match. I feel really overwhelmed to make it here to Tokyo 2020.”
Highlights of Morning Session:
♦ In Group A, Turkey’s Neslihan Yigit gave a good account of herself despite losing 21-14 21-9 to top seed Chen Yu Fei. The tall Turkish player troubled Chen in the first game with her steep smashes before the Chinese got a grip on her game and cruised home.
♦ Fourth seed Akane Yamaguchi was expected to have trouble against Kirsty Gilmour but the home hope didn’t give her Scottish opponent a chance, as she closed out Group L with a 21-9 21-18 result.
♦ Switzerland’s Sabrina Jaquet called time on her career after losing her final Group P match to Vietnam’s Nguyen Thuy Linh 21-8 21-17.