World champion Marin wins Hong Kong women’s title
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