Badminton: Top seed Tai beats Marin to claim World Tour Finals title

Badminton: Top seed Tai beats Marin to claim World Tour Finals title

BANGKOK (AFP) – Top-ranked Tai Tzu-ying won a dramatic cliffhanger title decider at theWorld Tour Finals in Bangkok on Sunday (Jan 31), blocking reigning Olympic champion Carolina Marin’s bid for a hat-trick of tournament victories in three weeks.

Marin beat the Taiwanese 26-year-old two weeks in a row during the Thailand Open finals.

But the Spaniard had a shaky start as Tai exploited holes in her defence, mounting a successful comeback in the later stages and winning the opener 21-14.

Marin was loud and fiesty in her verbal celebrations and a visibly annoyed Tai soon found her own voice.

The pair also played mind games over shuttlecock changes.

In the second game, Tai dominated early and dictated a commanding pace, eventually triumphing 21-8.

The decider was filled with fast and furious rallies – both players taking the lead at various stages – but two late spectacular drop shots were critical in sealing Tai’s victory 21-19.

Thailand has hosted three consecutive badminton tournaments in a bio-secure coronavirus bubble, without spectators to guard against the pandemic.

In the men’s singles, Viktor Axelsen, ranked fourth, is vying for a third win in three weeks and is on a 29-match winning streak.

It is an all-Danish final – Axelsen now plays third-seed Anders Antonsen.

The women’s doubles was an all-Korean showdown with fourth-ranked Lee So-hee and Shin Seung-chan pushing sixth-ranked Kim So-yeong and Kong Hee-yong to three games over 92 minutes.

Lee and Shin lost the first game 15-21 before scrapping through to claim the second 26-24.

They had momentum early in the third game and were able to hold off a late resurgence from their opponents to win the decider 21-19.

In the men’s doubles, seventh-ranked Lee Yang and Wang Chi-Lin of Taiwan won their third title in three weeks.

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They beat Indonesia’s Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan 21-17, 23-21 in 37 minutes.

Lee admitted the pair “were nervous coming in the finals here.”

“We were playing our idols. I thought: ‘oh my god, oh my god.’ Three titles is incredible,” he said.

Thailand’s third seeds Sapsiree Taerattanachai and Dechapol Puavaranukroh are also going for a trio of titles.

They are up against sixth-ranked South Koreans Seo Seung-jae and Chae Yoo-jung.

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