All England: Nine Years On, Marin Returns to the Top

And so, Carolina Marin it is on top of the podium at the All England once again, nine years and two knee surgeries after she last stood there.

Her win on Sunday will be remembered as her biggest since her second surgery three years ago. In the years since her comeback, she has been in major finals – including the BWF World Championships and the HSBC BWF World Tour Finals last year – but had finished second-best. She couldn’t be denied this time.

Marin hugs her mother after her emotional win.

Her opponent in the final, Akane Yamaguchi, had been taken through an 82-minute excruciating semifinal by An Se Young, and the effects of that would result in the Japanese quitting after the first game, with Marin leading 26-24 11-1. Yet, the first game offered sufficient examples of Marin’s famed gutsiness and fighting ability, the qualities that have seen her back among the elite after injuries that would have knocked most others off course.

Yamaguchi had three game points at 20-17, and then two more. Marin never let go of the attack even when under pressure, her shots laser-like in precision and intent. The first game lost, Yamaguchi’s physical struggles became apparent and she quit at the interval. Marin ran to the gallery and enveloped her mother in a hug.

“I felt pain in my right hip,” said Yamaguchi. “I was fine this morning. During my warm-up it felt normal, but after the first few rallies I started to feel something was not right. I just did whatever was possible. I managed to take it to game point, but from there I couldn’t push through. Maybe if I had taken the first game it would have been more difficult for me to make a decision on withdrawing, but I was finding it difficult to move.”

“I feel extremely happy,” said Marin. “So many emotions inside … to have my team, to have my mum here … I can’t believe I won the All England. I feel really proud of myself, I think I made an amazing week. It’s not about winning, but it’s about how I kept working during the week.

“It was important to keep fighting until the end. She was leading in the first game, 20-17, and I wanted to keep going, not think about the score. As I said yesterday, if she has to beat me, she has to work hard. This is what I showed today. I kept my focus on the things I had to do in my gameplan, I didn’t think about the score – this is the way I want to keep going.

“It means a lot. It’s not about winning, it’s about how I kept the focus during the whole week on the things I wanted to improve on.

“It was a tough week. At the beginning of the week I had a tough conversation with my coach, the things I have to improve on. It’s about doing the right things at the right moment, and the last four games was tough, but mentally I was so focused on the things I wanted to improve on.”


Zheng Si Wei and Huang Ya Qiong.

» It was a disappointing day for Japan as they fell in all three of their finals. The closest of these was the women’s doubles, with defending champions Nami Matsuyama/Chiharu Shida falling in three tight games to Baek Ha Na/Lee So Hee 21-19 11-21 21-17.

» Zheng Si Wei/Huang Ya Qiong avenged their 2018 final loss to Yuta Watanabe/Arisa Higashino, decimating their rivals 21-16 21-11 in just 28 minutes. It was Zheng’s third and Huang’s fourth title, and prevented Watanabe from achieving his sixth title overall.


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