Wednesday, May 22, 2019
TEXT BY DEV SUKUMAR | BADMINTONPHOTO
It was the turn of women’s singles No.1 Tai Tzu Ying to bite the dust at the hands of badminton’s newest prodigy.
Seventeen-year-old Korean schoolgirl An Se Young rocked day 4 of the TOTAL BWF Sudirman Cup 2019 today, showing the maturity and fitness of someone far older in years, as she struck down the No.1 14-21 21-18 21-16.
There was no hint during the 66-minute match that An was out of her league. Tai, true to style, wove webs around the youngster in the opening essay, but as the match wore on, the Korean started anticipating better, reaching more shuttles and keeping them in play. The longer the rallies went, the more erratic grew Tai’s finishing shots.
Still, given the length of the rallies, it would have been little surprise if An had faded out – instead, it was Tai who was the worse for the effort, and stared from the bottom of a chasm at 7-18 in the third. She did salvage some pride with a sequence of points at the end, but An shut the door before it got any closer.
Tai didn’t show her disappointment, and even allowed herself a smile while reflecting on her loss: “She’s tall, powerful, and has very good footwork. She’s good in all aspects of the game. She will be an outstanding player in future for sure.”
Tai said a niggle had affected her, but she didn’t offer that as an excuse.
“I wasn’t able to practice for a period of time due to my injury. After my first group match, I tried very hard to rest and recuperate. I made quite a few unforced errors today and I was not as fast as I wanted to be.”
An said she was surprised that she could beat the world’s best player: “My strategy was to defend in the beginning of each rally and then to take my opportunity. My coach advised me to pay attention to the front and keep the rally going. I’m surprised I could beat her.”
Her Sudirman Cup performance follows her victory at the New Zealand Open, where she beat top players like Beiwen Zhang, Aya Ohori and Li Xuerui.