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Vitidsarn has the measure of Axelsen, scripts a memorable triumph

Se-young raises her game to bounce back and stun Yamaguchi for the women’s crown

January 22, 2023 06:11 pm | Updated January 26, 2023 10:10 am IST - NEW DELHI

South Korea’s An Se-young with her winnings after reigning supreme in the singles final at the India Open badminton tournament in Delhi on Sunday (Jan. 22)

South Korea’s An Se-young with her winnings after reigning supreme in the singles final at the India Open badminton tournament in Delhi on Sunday (Jan. 22) | Photo Credit: SUSHIL KUMAR VERMA

Kunlavut Vitidsarn of Thailand proudly displays his winner’s medal following his victory over Viktor Axelsen in the summit clash at the India Open badminton tournament in Delhi on Sunday.

Kunlavut Vitidsarn of Thailand proudly displays his winner’s medal following his victory over Viktor Axelsen in the summit clash at the India Open badminton tournament in Delhi on Sunday. | Photo Credit: SUSHIL KUMAR VERMA

The victorious Chinese men’s pair of Liang Wei Keng and Wang Chang pose with their trophies

The victorious Chinese men’s pair of Liang Wei Keng and Wang Chang pose with their trophies | Photo Credit: SUSHIL KUMAR VERMA

The challengers rose to the occasion and tamed the top seeds to emerge champions. 

The talented Kunlavut Vitidsarn of Thailand and An Se-young of Korea asserted their tenacity as they beat the reigning World champions to bag the men’s and women’s singles titles respectively in the $900,000 Yonex Sunrise India Open at the KD Jadhav Hall on Sunday.

For the excited fans who packed the stands, it was high-quality entertainment that compensated for the two walkovers in the women’s and mixed doubles finals, as the Chinese fell sick.

It was a dream come true for the three-time World junior champion, the 21-year-old Kunlavut to beat the World and Olympic champion Viktor Axelsen 22-20, 10-21, 21-12.

The outrageously talented Kunlavut, who swung the racquet behind his back and between his legs to unleash some stunning shots, did not get carried away, and played purposefully in the decider.

In contrast, Axelsen looked resigned to his fate as he hurtled to defeat, hurrying many shots to the net from 10-12 in the third game.

The towering Axelsen graciously walked under the net to congratulate the champion who was celebrating on an emotional high. Axelsen had beaten the Thai in three finals, including the World Championship. The winner pocketed $59,500 and the runner-up $28,900.

The prize money was the same for the women, and there was no dearth of entertainment as well, as the 20-year-old An Se-young rode on the encouragement from the stands, and found admirable reserves of energy at the crunch, to overcome top seed Akane Yamaguchi 15-21, 21-16, 21-12.

Yamaguchi was unable to get into a higher gear and failed to fight on from 11-13 in the decider, even as the 20-year-old Korean came up with superb shots for her 12th title on the Tour. 

It was absolutely top-class to see how Se-young turned the match around from 12-12 in the second game for an unforgettable defeat of the World No. 1.

The results (finals):

Men: Kunlavut Vitidsarn (Tha) bt Viktor Axelsen (Den) 22-20, 10-21, 21-12.

Doubles: Liang Wei Keng & Wang Chang (Chn) bt Aaron Chia & Soh Wooi Yik (Mas) 14-21, 21-19, 21-18.

Women: An Se Young (Kor) bt Akane Yamaguchi (Jpn) 15-21, 21-16, 21-12.

Doubles: Nami Matsuyama & Chiharu Shida w/o Chen Qing Chen & Jia Yi Fan (Chn).

Mixed doubles: Yuta Watanabe & Arisa Higashino (Jpn) w/o Wang Yi Lyu & Huang Dong Ping (Chn).

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