Axelsen and Marin stay on course for hat-trick

Carolina Marin on the way to booking a place in her third final in a row with her World Tour Finals semi-final win yesterday.
Carolina Marin on the way to booking a place in her third final in a row with her World Tour Finals semi-final win yesterday.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

BANGKOK • Carolina Marin and Viktor Axelsen - winners of back-to-back titles for the past fortnight - are gunning for a hat-trick of victories in the deciders for badminton's World Tour Finals today.

Reigning Olympic champion Marin was unstoppable yesterday, quickly dispatching Thai Pornpawee Chochuwong 21-13, 21-13 in the semi-finals.

The delayed 2020 season finale, which began on Wednesday, is the third tournament behind closed doors in three weeks in Bangkok, as the sport resumes after months of coronavirus-enforced cancellations.

Her 13th-ranked opponent had performed better than expected in reaching the last four.

She outplayed her idol and compatriot Ratchanok Intanon, and the top-ranked Tai Tzu-ying of Chinese Taipei during the round-robin stage last week.

However, the 23-year-old was no match against the more experienced Marin, 27.

Marin has proven to be the most in-form player in the bio-secure bubble, despite being physically tired.

"Three tournaments in a row is tough," the sixth-seeded Spaniard said. "But I am looking forward to tomorrow. I'm really happy to play and give my best tomorrow and enjoy one more game."

She again faces Tai, whom she has beaten in the past two finals.

The Taiwanese took just 37 minutes to trounce South Korean teen prodigy An Se-young 21-18, 21-12 in the other semi-final. On her third straight final clash with Marin, Tai claimed she wanted to just "focus now and be patient".

In the men's singles, Axelsen was just as impressive as Marin. The world No. 4 swept past Chinese Taipei's Chou Tien-chen, ranked two places higher, 21-16, 21-9 in the last four.

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"Chou made it tough for me in the first game - he controlled the drift well but I managed to keep going," said Axelsen.

He faces fellow Dane and third-ranked Anders Antonsen, who beat Wang Tzu-wei of Chinese Taipei 21-18, 14-21, 21-16.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 31, 2021, with the headline 'Axelsen and Marin stay on course for hat-trick'. Subscribe