An Se-young lifted her first BWF Super 1000 title of the year after defeating four-time champion Tai Tzu Ying of Taiwan to become the first-ever Korean to win the Malaysia Open women’s single title.
In an explosive finals at Axiata Arena here, the world No.1 Se-yong, and Tai, looking to equal Chinese Zhang Ning’s record of winning five titles in the Open, were locked in a closely fought battle in the decider. Se Young eventually sealed the match 10-21, 21-10, 21-18 in a match that lasted 58 minutes.
Se-young took home USD91,000 in prize money as champion while the 29-year-old Tai, who saw her hopes of winning her fifth title dashed, settled for USD44,200.
The 21-year-old Se Young, playing with her right leg heavily strapped and still nursing her injury, came back strongly from a game down following Tai’s blistering form which led to the Taiwanese sealing the first game 21-10 in just 13 minutes.
Heading into the match with an advantage of 10 wins out of their previous 12 meetings, Se-young, enjoying her 24th consecutive week as the world No.1, put up a strong display in the second game which ended in a similar result of 21-10 over the Taiwanese ace.
It was a point-for-point clash in the decider which could go either way. Se-young started strongly before racing to an 11-9 lead at the interval.
She then took an 18-3 lead after a run of four straight points but Tai attempted a strong comeback with three straight points to narrow the gap to 19-18, only to commit an error at the net which saw the Korean wrapping up the game 21-18.
In the first finals of the day, Yuta Watanabe-Arisa Higashino created history by becoming the first Japanese pair to win the Malaysia Open mixed doubles title after overcoming Korean pair Kim Won Ho-Jeong Na Eun in straight games of 21-18, 21-15.
Watanabe/Higashino combined well with good coverage of the courts, overwhelming the Korean pair with their constant attacks and solid defence.
It was the world No.2 Japanese pair’s fifth Super 1000 title, which earned them USD96,200 as champions.