It was a contest between the circuit’s senior-most women’s singles player and one of its youngest, and it was all going wrong for the veteran.
With every rally, Yip Pui Yin, 32, was sinking deeper and deeper into a quagmire against 17-year-old An Se Young in the opening round of the YONEX-SUNRISE Hong Kong Open 2019 yesterday. An, the new world No.10 and hailed as the sport’s next big star, was nonchalantly firing winners past her. Trailing 0-10, Yip looked edgy and desperate.
Once she got the first point, however, the Hong Kong China player gained some confidence and added some respectability to the score, eventually going down 21-9 21-14. She admitted it had been a tough experience.
“I’ve never been 0-10 down, I was so nervous. I couldn’t control myself,” said Yip.
“When I got one or two points, I got some control back and I could concentrate. At the start, I couldn’t get any control because I’ve never played her. I didn’t know her style. She is fast and her shots are a bit difficult to defend, so I could not get any control.”
Yip, whose international career started 14 years ago when An was just 3, had high praise for her opponent, who this week broke into the top 10 of the world rankings.
“She has everything, she is so good. She is fast; her technique and everything else is good. I had to concentrate hard, because she doesn’t make any mistakes.”
Yip is in perhaps the last leg of her playing career, but she is still enthused by competition. She reckons she still has a shot at Tokyo 2020, although she is some way behind Hong Kong China’s top contender Cheung Ngan Yi.
“The motivation is that I can still play badminton. I’m 32, I still can play tournaments. Those wins are mine. I hope I can play as long as possible. My heart is still going on. I don’t know about Tokyo; there’s not much of a chance but there is some time left to qualify and I will go for it. I will try my best.”