World cham­pion Marin wins Hong Kong women’s ti­tle

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

HONG KONG: Two-time world cham­pion Carolina Marin of Spain took her sixth ti­tle of the year at the Hong Kong Open yes­ter­day, beat­ing Ja­pan’s No­zomi Okuhara in a tightly fought marathon three sets.

The epic 84 minute fi­nal-the long­est match in the women’s com­pe­ti­tion this tour­na­ment-saw the world num­ber one have six cham­pi­onship points be­fore fi­nally tak­ing the crown 21-17, 18-21, 22-20.

Af­ter steaming through the first set, Marin was seven points down in the sec­ond set. The Spa­niard looked on course for vic­tory early on in the third un­til her Ja­panese ri­val had a late surge.

“I think it was a tough match. She had a good come­back at the end of the game but I tried to just keep my­self down and think pos­i­tive things that I can beat her,” said Marin.

Marin has had a strong year, de­fend­ing her World Cham­pi­onship ti­tle in Au­gust and shoot­ing up the rank­ings from num­ber eight to one. Okuhara took her first ti­tle at a Su­per Se­ries tour­na­ment on home ground in Septem­ber, beat­ing com­pa­triot Akane Ya­m­aguchi in an all Ja­panese fi­nal.

The twenty-year-old had pre­vi­ously beaten Marin, in last year’s semi-fi­nals, but she then failed to take the ti­tle, fall­ing to Tai­wan’s Tai Tzu-ying.

“I could not win but I have con­fi­dence be­cause I still man­aged to catch up (in the third set) with Marin, who is the world num­ber one,” said Okuhara.

On the men’s side, for­mer world num­ber one Lee Chong Wei will face China’s Tian Houwei, cur­rently ranked tenth, later Sun­day to fight for his third con­sec­u­tive Su­per Se­ries ti­tle.

Lee beat lit­tle-known Hong Konger An­gus Ng in the semi-fi­nals, who had thrilled the home crowd when he took down Chi­nese bad­minton leg­end Lin Dan in the sec­ond round.

Lee is on a win­ning streak af­ter tak­ing back-to-back ti­tles in China and France as he has made a strong come­back fol­low­ing an eight-month dop­ing ban ear­lier this year. His re­cent per­for­mances have si­lenced crit­ics who ques­tioned whether the 33-year-old­who has been a prom­i­nent fix­ture on the bad­minton cir­cuit for nearly a decade-was past his peak, and he has his sights firmly set on next year’s Olympics and fi­nally clinch­ing a gold.

Lee has two sil­ver medals-from Lon­don and Beijing-where on both oc­ca­sions he was beaten to the top podium po­si­tion by arch-ri­val Lin.

Tian, a for­mer ju­nior world cham­pion, has never taken the ti­tle at a big event, but made it to the fi­nals of the Asian Cham­pi­onship’s this year, loos­ing to com­pa­triot Lin. — AFP

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