An Se Young Sets Sights on the Asian Games

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An Se Young lands at Incheon International Airport, Korea on Monday after winning the 2023 China Open. (photo: Yonhap News)
An Se Young lands at Incheon International Airport, Korea on Monday after winning the 2023 China Open. (photo: Yonhap News)

Seoul: Amidst the pulsating energy of the Changzhou Olympic Sports Center Gymnasium, South Korea’s World No. 1 women’s singles player, An Se Young, stamped her authority on the court, securing her 9th international title of the year on Sunday. This remarkable feat was achieved following a commanding 21-10, 21-19 victory over Japan’s world No. 2, Akane Yamaguchi in the 2023 China Open final.

An Se Young’s meteoric rise is making headlines in the world of badminton. With an awe-inspiring tally of reaching the finals 12 times out of 13 BWF World Tour tournaments this year, and taking home the gold on nine of those occasions, she’s cemented her reputation as one of the sport’s top shuttlers.

Last month, An became the first Korean female to seize the top podium spot at the World Championships. And now, after a nearly three-decade hiatus since Bang Soo-Hyun won the China Open in 1994, she conquered the China Open – a Super 1000 event ranked alongside the All England Open, Malaysia Open, and Indonesia Open.

Speaking to Korean media after arriving at Incheon International Airport on Monday, she admitted to having mixed feelings about the China Open. “Given that the China Open was very close to the Asian Games, I did hesitate if I wanted to participate in the tournament,” she shared. An also elaborated on the challenges and pressures, especially in the face of rigorous analysis of her playing style by her competitors. The tough match against world number 9, Han Yue of China in the China Open quarter-finals, served as a testament to this, where An had to dig deep to mount a comeback after dropping the first set to win 15-21, 21-15, 21-17.

In her face-off against Yamaguchi in the finals, she reflected, “Having squared off against Yamaguchi 21 times, we know each others’ gameplay and moves very well; it’s clear we’ve both done our homework.” Looking ahead, she emphasized the need to refine her strategies, especially against familiar foes like Yamaguchi.

When mentioning how the Chinese crowd was cheering and supporting the players from the China team, An said: “On the court, it’s just me and my game. I don’t really pay too much attention to external noises. However, every time I heard my name cheered in Korean, I felt motivated.”

With the Hangzhou Asian Games on the horizon, An’s focus intensifies. “It’s a blend of anticipation and nerves,” she said.

“As long as I follow the coach and his instructions. My physical condition is also good, I am confident to achieve good results,” added An.

An will skip the Hong Kong Open taking place from September 12 to September 17.

As soon as she returned from China, she and other Korean shuttlers entered the Jincheon Athletes’ Village in North Chungcheong Province gearing up for the much-anticipated Asian Games.

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