South Korean badminton star An Se-young won her first career world title in the women's singles in Denmark on Sunday, brightening her gold medal hopes at the upcoming Asian Games.
An, world No. 1, defeated sixth-ranked Carolina Marin of Spain 21-12, 21-10 in the final of the Badminton World Federation (BWF) World Championships at Royal Arena in Copenhagen on Sunday.
An, 21, became the first South Korean to win a women's singles title in the world championships' 46-year history. An was the first South Korean to even play in the final in 30 years.
This was An's eighth international title of the season, a run that includes a victory at the prestigious All England Open in March.
In Saturday's semifinals, An had defeated her longtime nemesis and world No. 3 from China, Chen Yufei.
An is 5-2 against Chen this season, after going 1-8 against the Chinese prior to 2023.
An is considered among the gold medal favorites at the Asian Games starting in Hangzhou, China, on Sept. 23. The badminton competition gets under way on Sept. 28.
South Korea was shut out of badminton medals at the previous Asian Games in 2018, the first such occurrence in 40 years.
An dominated Marin in the opening game. An charged out to a 4-1 lead, before Marin rallied to tie the score. Then An won six consecutive points, with Marin committing a series of mistakes.
From 14-9, An reeled off four points in a row to blow the game wide open, showing off delicate touch around the net and unleashing winners left and right. An then won the opening game 21-12 after Marin's return went long.
An claimed the first four points of the second game and opened up a 7-2 lead. But Marin refused to go down without a fight, putting An on the defensive with some aggressive shotmaking to knot the score at 10-10.
An then regrouped and won the game's final 11 points to grab the gold medal.
An went back to being her more aggressive self, firing winners and forcing Marin to hit poor returns. Marin quickly unraveled, and An clinched the title when her opponent's return went out of bounds.
"I am the champion. I am so happy today," An said in English during her on-court interview. Then turning to her native tongue, An said. "I think I played well today because I enjoyed myself out there. I had so much fun."
Earlier Sunday, Seo Seung-jae and Chae Yu-jung captured the mixed doubles title by beating the top-ranked tandem from China, Zheng Siwei and Huang Yaqiong, 21-17, 10-21, 21-18.
Seo and Chae, ranked fifth in the world, are the first South Korean team in 20 years to win a world mixed doubles title.
In the intervening years, South Korea had won three bronze medals -- in 2009, 2010 and 2013. No South Korean team even reached the semifinals from 2014 to 2022.
Seo and Chae had never defeated Zheng and Huang in their nine previous meetings.
After the teams traded the first two games, Seo and Chae opened the deciding third game on a 7-1 run.
The South Koreans continued to lead by a handful of points and moved to the championship point at 20-14 after the opponents' service fault.
Zheng and Huang won the next four points, but Seo closed the deal at 21-18 with a smash winner.
Source: Yonhap News Agency