HA NOI Englands Andrew Smith won the Viet Nam Open after defeating Malaysian Saman Ismail 21-14, 12-21, 21-19 yesterday at HCM Citys Phan Dinh Phung Gymnasium.
The two rivals had previously put an end to the hopes of the two remaining Vietnamese players at the event last Saturday.
|Smashing: Andrew Smith of England jumps for a smash during the Viet Nam Opens mens single final against Malaysian Saman Ismail. Smith won 21-14, 12-21, 21-19 to take the title. VNS Photo Thanh Vu|
Smith beat Vietnamese national champion Nguyen Tien Minh, who was the third seed, 21-7, 21-16 in the semi-final. While Ismail trounced Nguyen Quang Minh 21-15, 18-21, 21-15 in the quarter-final the day before.
The tournaments No 1 seed easily took the first set against his rival who developed his skills at the same badminton centre in Malaysia several years ago.
In the first set, Ismails nerves seemed to be affected by Smiths strong and quick-paced attack. The jittery Malaysian often hit the net, losing valuable points.
Smith had carefully studied the Malaysians playing style, since they trained together. He successfully combined long-range and short-range smashes to make Ismail all the more confused. Several times, the Malaysian was out-smarted by some of Smiths deft shuttles that plonked over the net with Ismail in no position to do anything about it.
But it was Smiths trademark strong and rapid shots, which most of his rivals failed to defend, that had Ismail on the back foot.
The English world No 15 spent more than ten minutes in winning the first set, 21-14.
After a short break, Ismail regained his composure. With low and short shuttles, he limited Smiths smashes. The tactic worked well. Ismail led for the first time, at 4-3 in the second set. The new strategy also forced Smith into several errors, bringing more points Ismails way.
The situation for Smith became urgent, with coach David Hunt approaching the court to offer some advice. But it was in vain, as Smith continued to lose points. Smith could not bring into play any more of his killer strong smashes, and was quickly defeated 12-21 his first set loss at the championship.
In the decisive third set, Smith benefited from the break to regain his form. He quickly went ahead at 9-3 with his powerful smashes back in full play.
However, after a disagreement with a referees decision, Smith again lost momentum and Ismail gradually drew the score 15-15, and then 19-19.
In a nail-biting finale, Smith proved his strength to win two important points at 21-19 to finally take the bonus of US,400 for the mens single title.
Viet Nams Tien Minh shared third place with Chan Yan Kit of Hong Kong.
In the womens competition, South Korean Bea Seung-hee took the gold medal after winning 21-8, 21-18 over Kaur Anita Raj from Malaysia.
It was the third gold medal for the South Korea team who in the morning won titles in the mixed doubles and mens doubles events.
The Viet Nam Open badminton tournament drew the participation of more than 120 contenders from 13 countries and territories. Viet Nam sent the highest number of players but took only took one bronze.
Organisers promised the second edition of the event will be held with many more badminton stars and bigger bonuses for the winners.