Carolina Marin claims Thailand Open title

BANGKOK (Agencies): Reigning Olympic champion Carolina Marin has bolstered her chances of defending in Tokyo later this year after claiming the Thailand Open in Bangkok Sunday over top seed Tai Tzu-ying.

The former world number one Spaniard was an imposing force with razor sharp smash shots, clever net work and an unmatched level of aggression and agility. Marin screamed in delight as she won match point in the second set after steam-rolling her 26-year-old opponent from Taiwan 21-9, 21-16 in 42 minutes.

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. Fourth seed Viktor Axelsen of Denmark faces Hong Kong’s Angus Long, ranked eighth, in the men’s final.

The Thailand Open is the first of three consecutive tournaments in Bangkok culminating in the World Tour Finals from January 27. The players have been facing off in a bio-secure bubble minus spectators, although the tournament has been overshadowed by three positive coronavirus cases.

Indonesia’s Greysia Polii and Apriyani Rahayu were too good for Thailand’s Jongkolphan Kititharakul and Rawinda Prajongjai in the women’s doubles final, prevailing 21-15, 21-12. The win marked a record fourth title in Thailand for Polii.

In the mixed doubles, top-seeded Thais Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai took eight minutes to claim the first game against Indonesia’s Praveen Jordan and Melati Daeva Oktavianti 21-3. The second set was neck and neck with the home team going down 20-22, but the locals were too strong in the decider: 21-18.

In the men’s doubles Taiwan’s Lee Yang and Wang Chi-Lin beat Malaysia’s Goh V Shem and Tan Wee Kiong 16-21, 23-21, 19-21.