Badminton: South Korea’s An, 21, wins first All England title

An Se-young celebrating after winning the All England Open women's singles final match against China's Chen Yufei. PHOTO: REUTERS

BIRMINGHAM – South Korea’s An Se-young won her first All England Open title beating China’s Chen Yufei 21-17, 10-21, 21-19 in 75 minutes at Arena Birmingham on Sunday.

The 21-year-old was beaten in the final by Akane Yamaguchi in 2022 but she ensured there was no similar disappointment by seeing off the challenge of the 25-year-old Olympic champion, who had not dropped a set en route to the final.

This was world No. 2 An’s fifth final in as many tournaments in 2023, three of which she has now won. She is the first South Korean All England women’s singles winner since Bang Soo-hyun in 1996.

Fourth-ranked Chen, who ousted Yamaguchi in Saturday’s semi-finals, had beaten An in eight of their last 10 meetings before Sunday, but lost to her in the Malaysian Open semi-finals in January.

Asked about that, the South Korean said: “Obviously you gain experience and by doing so, you grow up. Not only the Malaysian Open, but every game I gain experience to this moment...

“It’s definitely a historical moment in my career. Definitely, this will be my opportunity to grow up even further, one step up.”

The all-China men’s singles final, between world No. 14 Li Shifeng and 12th-ranked Shi Yuqi – who won the title in 2018 – went to the former. Li won 26-24, 21-5 for his maiden All England crown.

In the women’s doubles, compatriots Kim So-yeong and Kong Hee-yong hoped their victory in an all-South Korean final would stand them in good stead for gold at the Paris Olympics in 2024.

The sixth seeds beat Baek Ha-na and Lee So-hee, who are playing only their sixth event together, 21-5, 21-12 in just 43 minutes.

Kim and Kong finished second at last year’s World Championships and reached the semi-finals of the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.

“We did not expect to win the All England as we have not been playing that well recently,” said Kim.

“We hope we can (use this) to win gold at the Olympics because it’s such a big tournament.”

In the mixed doubles, China’s Zheng Siwei and Huang Yaqiong continued their imperious form in major finals, extending their winning streak in Super 1000 finals to seven on the trot.

The three-time reigning world champions saw off South Korea’s world No. 9s Seo Seung-jae and Chae Yu-jung 21-16, 16-21, 21-12 in 64 minutes.

The men’s doubles showpiece was an all-Indonesian affair – world No. 1s Fajar Alfian and Rian Ardianto easily beat 2022 losing finalists and two-time winners Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan 21-17, 21-14 in 34 minutes.

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