French Open: An Se Young’s Reign Continues

Neither a right knee still on the mend from injury, nor a long semifinal; nor a difficult opponent: none of these limited An Se Young‘s pursuit of her second title of the year and her 21st on the HSBC BWF World Tour.

There was the familiar scream of delight from the world No.1 after she’d dispatched Akane Yamaguchi, her toughest rival of recent times, rather comfortably: 18-21 21-13 21-10.

A dejected Yamaguchi.

With both finalists still recovering from recent injuries, there was some doubt about how it would all play out. An had visibly struggled in her semifinal against Tai Tzu Ying, coming back from four match points down, while Yamaguchi was in her first World Tour final since last September.

Yamaguchi’s best spell of play was in the first game, but as the match wore on, her level noticeably declined. The former two-time French Open champion could barely get her attack going, even as An pinned her to the deep backhand and picked her spots for the kill. It was over in 64 minutes, with An winning her second French Open title and continuing her reign atop women’s singles badminton.

“Compared to the Malaysia Open and the India Open, my knee is a lot better,” said An. “Among the top players, we both have had our trouble with injuries, and we are coming back slowly. I really enjoyed the match and I’m sure we’ll have more in future.

“This is an important event before the Olympics and I felt a lot of pressure at first. Winning in the Olympic arena means a lot and I feel very happy. I guess when I come back here for the Olympics I will be in a positive frame of mind.”

The beaten finalist acknowledged that she had some way to go to find her best level.

“I’d slowed down in the third,” said Yamaguchi. “I competed twice in January and back then I felt difficult on court. But right now my condition is much better and I was able to make the final, but I feel there’s some more way to go.”

Other Highlights

Feng Yan Zhe/Huang Dong Ping won their first title since last October, demolishing the challenge of world champions Seo Seung Jae/Chae Yu Jung 21-16 21-16.

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