SHANGHAI • South Korean schoolgirl An Se-young surprised even herself when she stunned Chinese Taipei's world No. 1 Tai Tzu-ying at badminton's Sudirman Cup yesterday to burnish her fast-growing reputation.
Rising star An, who is ranked 50th in the world, roared back to defeat Tai 14-21, 21-18, 21-16 in 66 thrilling minutes in the southern Chinese city of Nanning as South Korea won 3-2. The teenager, who won the New Zealand Open earlier this month, said: "I'm surprised I could beat her.
"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."
Chinese Taipei and title holders South Korea were already into the quarter-finals of the mixed-team world championships, but this was further evidence of An's precocious talent.
China, Malaysia, Japan, Thailand, Indonesia and Denmark are also into the knockout stages.
Singapore beat Israel 4-1 for their first win in Group 2B and play Vietnam today for 17th placing, having lost to their South-east Asian rivals two years ago to end 14th.
Tai, 24, said that she had a niggling injury but did not use that as an excuse in her first career match against An.
"She's tall, powerful and has very good footwork," the Taiwanese said of her young opponent, who only turned 17 in February.
"She's good in all aspects of the game. She will be an outstanding player in future for sure."
China, the 10-time winners of the prestigious team competition, eased to a 5-0 victory earlier yesterday to send India home and propel themselves and Malaysia into the last eight.