Top-ranked Tai Tzu-ying won a dramatic cliffhanger women’s badminton World Tour Final in Bangkok Sunday, blocking reigning Olympic champion Carolina Marin’s bid for a hat-trick of titles in three weeks. Marin beat the Taiwanese 26-year-old two weeks in a row during the previous Thailand Open tournament finals. Marin won the opening game 21-14 and it seemed as if she would walk away with yet another title but Tai came back strongly in the last two games, foiling the Spaniard’s plans.
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 yo-yoed up and down the scoreboard — 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’s 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.
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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