Marin in smashing form as rivals play catch-up

BANGKOK • As reigning Olympic badminton champion Carolina Marin continues to go from strength to strength, her main rivals are searching for some semblance of consistency.

The Spaniard, looking for a hat-trick of titles since badminton’s restart, marched towards a swift Group A victory over Canada’s 10th-ranked Michelle Li 21-16, 21-13 at the World Tour Finals in Bangkok yesterday.

Former world No. 1 Ratchanok Intanon was also victorious, landing a crucial Group B victory over Indian star P.V. Sindhu to keep her campaign alive.

Both players were coming off an initial loss in the round-robin tournament, and while the Thai trailed for most of the first game, she found her killer instinct and mounted a successful comeback, winning 21-18.

The 25-year-old home favourite then claimed the second game 21-13 and the match.

“It wasn’t my day,” said Sindhu. “Losing the first game made the difference. My timing was a bit off, so I’m a bit disappointed.”

Fifth seed Ratchanok was upset in three games on Wednesday by compatriot Pornpawee Chochuwong, ranked 13th. Her final round-robin match will be a challenging contest against world No. 1 Tai Tzu-ying, the winner of a three-game thriller against Sindhu on Wednesday.

Reigning world champion Sindhu will today face an in-form Pornpawee, who upset Chinese Taipei’s Tai 21-17, 21-11 in 37 minutes yesterday.

Meanwhile, Marin has yet to drop a single game since the Tour resumed after months of coronavirus cancellations.

The delayed 2020 season finale is the third tournament behind closed doors in three weeks in Bangkok, with the Spaniard winning both Thailand Opens earlier this month.

The top eight players in all singles and doubles disciplines are contesting this week’s tournament, although China and Japan are absent because of coronavirus issues. The top two shuttlers from each group will progress to tomorrow’s semi-finals.

“I think I keep getting better and better,” Marin said. “I’m better than yesterday for sure. After a month here (in Bangkok), it’s tough mentally, I’ve had two finals in a row, then I’m having to prepare myself again to play in a new tournament this week.”

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