REIGNING Olympic badminton champion Carolina Marin on Sunday claimed her second Thailand Open title in a fortnight against the same opponent — women’s singles top seed Tai Tzu-ying.
Thailand is hosting three consecutive badminton tournaments in a bio-secure coronavirus bubble, without spectators.
Former world champion Marin, 27, went into Sunday’s Toyota Thailand Open final without losing a single game across the two tournaments. She won the Yonex Thailand Open final on Jan 17.
In a much tighter contest than the first final last week, the Spaniard claimed the first game 21-19.
The Taiwanese 26-year-old appeared to lose her confidence early in the second set, as a dangerous Marin asserted her dominance.
Tai saved four match points but her comeback was too little too late as Marin sealed her victory 21-17.
“I feel extremely happy. Two victories in two weeks, it’s an amazing way to start the year,” said Marin.
“I said to myself and my team that for 2021 I was going to be a new player, with a new mindset with more focus on the game.”
The first non-Asian women’s player to win an Olympic badminton gold, Marin has faced an uphill battle to recover from a January 2019 knee injury in time to defend her crown in Tokyo.
In the men’s final, fourth seed Viktor Axelsen beat Hans-Kristian Solberg Vittinghus 21-11, 21-7.
Solberg Vittinghus, ranked 42, made the tournament from a reserves list and had to cancel a flight home because he had not anticipated a finals berth.
The women’s doubles was an all Korean affair with sixth-ranked Kim So-yeong and Kong Hee-yong too strong against fourth-ranked Lee So-hee and Shin Seung-chan 21-18, 21-19.
In the men’s doubles, seventh-ranked Lee Yang and Wang Chi-Lin of Taiwan also made it back-to-back titles in 36 minutes against Malaysia’s ninth-ranked Aaron Chia and Soh Wooi Yik 21-13, 21-18.
In the mixed doubles, Sapsiree Taerattanachai and Dechapol Puavaranukroh beat South Koreans Seo Seung-ae and Chae Yujung.
Four people involved in the tournaments, including two players, have tested positive for the coronavirus during the past fortnight of competition.
The finale — the Badminton World Federation World Tour Finals — kicks off on Wednesday at the Impact Arena Muang Thong Thani and will be contested by the top eight of each discipline.
Chinese and Japanese athletes have not participated in the Bangkok tournaments.
Spain’s Carolina Marin hitting a shot during the women’s singles final match where she beat Taiwan’s Tai Tzu Ying at the Toyota Thailand Open badminton tournament in Bangkok. Photo: AFP and published by Arab News