Marin and Axelsen claim back-to-back badminton titles in Bangkok
Spain’s Carolina Marin and Viktor Axelsen from Denmark on Sunday claimed their second Thailand Open badminton singles titles in a fortnight.
Axelsen was a commanding force against his compatriot Hans-Kristian Solberg Vittinghus in the men’s final in Bangkok.
Marin, the reigning Olympic champion, smashed top seed Tai Tzu-ying for the second time in a fortnight.
Thailand is hosting three consecutive badminton tournaments in a bio-secure coronavirus bubble, without spectators to guard against the coronavirus outbreak.
Marin, 27, went into Sunday’s final without losing a single game across the two tournaments.
In a much tighter contest than the first final last week, the Spaniard claimed the first game 21-19.
The Taiwanese 26-year-old appeared to lose her confidence early in the second set, as a dangerous Marin asserted her dominance.
Tai saved four match points but her comeback was too late as Marin sealed her victory 21-17.
“I feel extremely happy. Two victories in two weeks, it’s an amazing way to start the year,” said Marin.
“I said to myself and my team that for 2021 I was going to be a new player, with a new mindset with more focus on the game.”
Tai acknowledged she couldn’t match Marin’s pace.
“I couldn’t control myself from making unforced errors,” she said.
The first non-Asian woman 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.
Axelsen 27, ran rings around 35-year-old Vittinghus triumphing in the first set 21-11.
Vittinghus, ranked 42th, made the tournament from a reserves list and had to reschedule his flight home because he had not anticipated a finals berth.
Axelsen repeatedly sent Vittinghus diving for shots and appeared in control of most rallies throughout the 40-minute match.
He polished off the second set 21-7 and flagged there would be low key celebrations.
“I’m going to stay at the hotel and talk to my family, my baby girl at home and that’s what’s on the menu tonight,” he said.
The women’s doubles was an all Korean affair with sixth-ranked Kim So-yeong and Kong Hee-yong too strong against fourth-ranked Lee So-hee and Shin Seung-chan 21-18, 21-19.
In the men’s doubles, seventh-ranked Lee Yang and Wang Chi-Lin of Taiwan also made it back-to-back titles in 36 minutes against Malaysia’s ninth-ranked Aaron Chia and Soh Wooi Yik 21-13, 21-18.
Thailand’s third seeds Sapsiree Taerattanachai and Dechapol Puavaranukroh won their second tournament in a fortnight, outclassing sixth-ranked Koreans Seo Seung-ae and Chae Yujung in the mixed doubles.
Like their uniforms the Thai team were red hot, winning 21-16, 22-20 in 46 minutes.
Four people involved in the tournaments, including two players, have tested positive for the coronavirus during the past fortnight of competition.
The finale — the Badminton World Federation World Tour Finals — kicks off on Wednesday at the Impact Arena and will be contested by the top eight of each discipline.
Chinese and Japanese athletes have not participated in the Bangkok tournaments.