PETALING JAYA: South Korean An Se-young’s success at the French Open is a reminder to all Malaysian aspiring shuttlers that it’s never too early to win big.
The 17-year-old Se-young continued to make her presence felt on the big stage when the world No. 15 pulled off a resounding 16-21,21-18,21-5 victory over three-time world champion Carolina Marin of Spain in the women’s singles final in Paris on Sunday.
She had also stunned the more illustrious Saina Nehwal of India and Japan’s Akane Yamaguchi prior to the final.
Se-young burst onto the top-level scene when she sensationally overcame the likes of American Zhang Beiwen, Japan’s Aya Ohori and Li Xuerui of China to win the New Zealand Open for her maiden World Tour triumph in early May.
She picked up two more titles – the Akita Masters in Japan and Canada Open – but her other glorious moment before the French Open victory was probably when she upset Taiwan’s Tai Tzu-ying during the group stage of the Sudirman Cup in mid May.
Her win comes just days after former All-England men doubles winner Tan Boon Heong took a dig at Malaysia’s No. 2 Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik. Boon Heong had advised the All-England runners-up to stop giving excuses that they needed more time to become world beaters.
Boon Heong pointed out that time waited for no one and encouraged Aaron-Wooi Yik to keep working hard to fulfil their dream of becoming the country’s reliable top pair.
Se-young was not the only youngster who stole the show in the French Open as India’s Satwiksairaj Rankireddy-Chirag Shetty also made it to the final before going down 18-21,16-21 to Indonesia’s world No. 1 Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo-Marcus Fernaldi Gideon of Indonesia.
Satwiksairaj is 19 while Chirag is 22.
Despite the defeat, they walked tall as they had beaten three world top 10 opponents including world champions Mohammad Ahsan-Hendra Setiawan of Indonesia, Denmark Kim Astrup-Anders Skaarup Rasmussen and Japan’s Hiroyuki Endo-Yuta Watanabe on their way to the final.
The Indians, who were previously trained by former Malaysian international Tan Kim Her before the latter’s move to the Japanese national team, have been making waves lately.
In August, they upset world No. 3 Li Junhui-Liu Yuchen of China to win the Thailand Open crown.
In the men’s singles final, Chen Long of China finally ended a frustrated 12-month drought by defending the title.
He beat Jonatan Christie of Indonesia 21-19,21-12 to become the first back-to-back men’s singles champion since India’s Vimal Kumar in 1983 and 1984.
Indonesia’s Melati Daeva Oktavianti celebrated her 25th birthday in a glorious fashion when she and Praveen Jordan beat China’s world No. 1 Zheng Siwei-Huag Yaqiong 22-24,21-16,21-12 to claim a second title in as many weeks after winning the Denmark Open last week.
Men’s singles: Chen Long (Chn) bt Jonatan Christie (Ina) 21-19,21-12.
Men’s doubles: Marcus Fernaldi Gideon-Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo (Ina) bt Satwiksairaj Rankireddy-Chirag Shetty (Ind) 21-18,21-16.
Women’s singles: An Se-young (Kor) bt Carolina Marin (Spa) 16-21,21-18,21-5.
Women’s doubles: Lee So-hee-Shin Sheung-chan (Kor) bt Kim So-yeong-Kong Hee-yong (Kor) 16-21,21-19,21-12.
Mixed doubles: Praveen Jordan-Melati Daeva Oktavianti (Ina) bt Zheng Siwei-Huang Yaqiong (Chn) 22-24,21-16,21-12.
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