After two straight defeats against former No. 1 Chen Yufei of China at the 2018 Asian Games and the Tokyo Olympics, South Korea's An Se-young faced the rival again in the final of the women's team competition at the 19th Asiad.
This time, the current world No. 1 and reigning world champion did not repeat the failure that she made in the two previous encounters at the big sporting events.
In the first singles game, An beat Chen in straight sets to lead the country to its first Asian Games gold medal in the team event in 29 years in the five-game badminton team final at Binjiang Gymnasium in Hangzhou, China, on Sunday.
"Coincidentally, I lost to her in the previous two matches," the 21-year-old badminton player said in a mixed-zone interview after beating Chen in the first game. "I think either Chen got too nervous on her home turf or I prepared better for this match than her."
Excluding Sunday's match, An and Chen have played 17 times in international competitions, and Chen has won 10 of them.
An said the frequent meetings with the Chinese player have helped them get used to each other's playing habits and patterns, and she focused more on maintaining her power and endurance.
"We know each other so well that we can predict what the other is going to do," she said. "I think stamina matters here."
Since the Tokyo Olympics, which took place in 2021 due to a pandemic-induced delay, however, An has made her presence felt in the international badminton community. She rose to No. 1 and became the first South Korean to win a women's singles title in the world championships' 46-year history.
"I've learned a lot from my defeats, and now I'm not the same person anymore, and I can return those defeats back to her," she said. "I trust the time I've trained and myself, and that worked well today."
Source: Yonhap News Agency