Badminton World Tour | Antonsen and Tai reign in nail-biting finals

Former denies Axelsen a third tournament victory in three weeks; Latter stops Marin’s bid for yet another title

Top-ranked Tai Tzu-ying won the women’s badminton World Tour Final here on Sunday, blocking reigning Olympic champion Carolina Marin’s bid for a hat-trick of titles in three weeks.

The all Danish men’s singles final was equally nail-biting as Anders Antonsen denied Viktor Axelsen a third tournament victory in three weeks.

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

The Spaniard had a shaky start on Sunday as Tai exploited holes in her defence early, but Marin mounted a successful comeback in the later stages and won the opener 21-14.

Marin was loud and fiesty in her verbal celebrations, but 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.

Fast rallies

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 21-19 victory.

“Before this match, I kept telling myself that I had to play patiently. In the previous matches, all my mistakes were caused (by) my own impatience,” Tai said.

Axelsen, ranked fourth, couldn’t control his nerves — losing the first game 16-21 — his body language showing immense frustration as errors piled up and shots landed wide. He managed to regroup to win the second game 21-5.

Right answers

But in the decider, Antonsen had all the right answers, triumphing 21-17 to claim the game and the hour-long match against an increasingly ruffled Axelsen.

Antonsen is the only man to beat Axelsen in three weeks.

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 men’s doubles, seventh-ranked Lee Yang and Wang Chi-Lin won their third title in three weeks. They beat Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan 21-17, 23-21 in 37 minutes.

The results (finals):

Men: Anders Antonsen (Den) bt Viktor Axelsen (Den) 21-16, 5-21, 21-17; Doubles: Lee Yang & Wang Chi-Lin (Tpe) bt Mohammad Ahsan & Hendra Setiawan (Ina) 21-17, 23-21.

Women: Tai Tzu-ying (Tpe) bt Carolin Marin (Esp) 14-21, 21-8, 21-19; Doubles: Lee So-hee and Shin Seung-chan (Kor) bt Kim So-yeong & Kong Hee-yong (Kor) 15-21, 26-24, 21-19.

Mixed doubles: Sapsiree Taerattanachai & Dechapol Puavaranukroh (Tha) Seo Seung-jae & Chae Yoo-jung (Kor) 21-18, 8-21, 21-8.

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