BANGKOK: Reigning Olympic champion Carolina Marin (pix) was unstoppable Saturday, clinching a spot in badminton’s World Tour Finals after quickly dispatching Thai player Pornpawee Chochuwong in a 21-13, 21-13 game.
The delayed 2020 season finale, which began Wednesday, is the third tournament behind closed doors in three weeks in Bangkok, as badminton resumes after months of coronavirus cancellations.
The Spaniard – winner of back-to-back titles for the past fortnight – is gunning for a hattrick of victories in tomorrow’s finals.
Her opponent, 13th-ranked Pornpawee, has performed better than expected in the World Tour.
She beat her personal idol, Thai star Ratchanok Intanon, and top-ranked Tai Tzu-ying during the round-robin stage earlier this week.
But the 23-year-old was no match against the more experienced Marin, who praised Pornpawee’s play but admitted that three straight weeks of badminton was wearing on her.
“Three tournaments in a row is tough,” said the fifth-seeded player. “But I am looking forward to tomorrow… I’m really happy to play and give my best tomorrow and enjoy one more game.”
Marin will once again be facing off against top-ranked Tai Tzu-ying, who she had beaten two weeks in a row during the previous tournaments’ finals.
The Taiwanese player earlier in the day trounced South Korean teen prodigy An Se-young, who admitted to feeling lethargic during the 37-minute game.
“I think my physical condition has dropped – I feel heavy and made mistakes, so I couldn’t match Tai Tzu-ying’s speed,” said An of the 21-18, 21-12 game.
As for Tai’s final meeting with Marin, she said she wanted to just “focus now and be patient” for Sunday’s finals.
Missing from the tournament are players from China and Japan – 2019’s World Tour Finals champs – because of coronavirus problems.
Despite the strict biosecurity arrangements in Bangkok, four people inside the tournament “bubble” have tested positive, including two players who were forced to withdraw. – AFP