(Photo: Badminton Photo)
Two in two!
Date: 1/24/2021 12:09 PM
Published by : Alan Raftery
The final day of the second Thailand Open came to a close today in Bangkok. The crowned champions were delighted that after a tough year they can get off to such a promising start to 2021.

Incredibly, four out of the five champions today also stood atop the highest level of the podium last week, backing up their status as major contenders for next week's BWF World Tour Finals and the rest of the year. 

In the men’s singles, we had an all-Danish final. Hans-Kristian Vittinghus captured the imagination of fans this week after rolling back the years with some great performances. Today he faced another teammate in Viktor Axelsen who looks in unshakeable form. 

In 40 minutes of play, the tall Dane secured another title with a dominant 21-11, 21-7 win. Speaking after the match, he said.

-This is a big, big achievement for me. I have not played for a long time but to come here and win back-to-back tournaments is an extraordinary achievement for me, so I am really happy and proud of myself. 

Often matches against compatriots are close affairs, much like their previous match at the 2019 Malaysia Masters. Explaining why today was a little different, he states. 

-I have played quite a few matches in this arena now and I knew that Hans-Kristian would be a little bit tired after some tough games this week. I was also tired, but I think that I managed to play really well and my game plan worked to make it a physical game, had good length on my lifts and made it tough for him. 

Vittinghus, who has been winning titles since 2006, when Axelsen was only 12, knows a good opponent when he sees one. 

-Viktor was controlling the conditions really well and I felt under a lot of pressure all the time… he was the better player by far. I think if we played this match one hundred times, I would lose one hundred times with the level he showed today. 

The new Marin
Carolina Marin was also in line for a double in Thailand, however, she would face the prospect of a repeat final with world number one, Tai Tzu Ying. Winning 21-9, 21-16 last week, Tai needed to come up with something else to topple the Spaniard this time around, and Marin knew this well.

-She needed to change something from last week if she wanted to beat me. I knew she was tired from a tough match against Ratchanok [Intanon], so if she was going to play long rallies, I was prepared for that.

One feature of Tai’s game is that she is very capable of putting together a late surge to steal games, and de-stabilise her opponents, something that we saw against the home favourite Intanon in yesterday’s semifinal. With Marin 18-13 up in the first game, Tai made her move. A key rally came at 20-19, but Marin was able to hold her nerve and take the game. 

The second game had a lot more breathing space. However, at 20-13, yet again Tai had a trademark surge of points to 17, but the reigning Olympic champion stayed calm and took it 21-17 and dropping to her knees with tears of joy. 

-I feel extremely happy. Two victories in two weeks. It is amazing how I started the year. When we finished 2020, I told my team that I want to be a new player with a new mindset. More focused on the game and to keep improving. 

Marin said now that she is allowed to be in the same hotel room as her team, they will have a celebratory meal before refocusing on the BWF World Tour Finals next week, a tournament she has never won before. However, keeps the bigger picture in mind when looking further into 2021. 

-We have two big goals for this year which are the Olympic Games and the World Championships, so it is going to be an important year and it is an unbelievable start. 

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