Champions An Seyoung and  Kunlavut Vitidsarn.
Champions An Seyoung and Kunlavut Vitidsarn.

Youngsters Kunlavut, An clinch India Open titles

In the second game, Axelsen galloped to an 8-3 lead and later took the match to the decider after Kunlavut made a pool of errors.

NEW DELHI: Thailand’s Kunlavut Vitidsarn and An Seyoung of Korea put on scintillating shows to clinch the India Open men’s and women’s singles title respectively after stunning Viktor Axelsen and Akane Yamaguchi in the finals here on Sunday.

Kunlavut, 21, notched up the biggest title of his career as he defeated reigning Olympic champion Axelsen of Denmark 22-20, 10-21, 21-12 while the 20-year-old An saw off World No.1 Yamaguchi of Japan 15-21, 21-16, 21-12.

The Dane was the odds-on favourite to win the India Open men’s title as he held a 6-0 career head-to-head record against the Thai player, with victories at the World Championships final and Denmark Open last year. But, Kunlavut seemed all set to buck the trend as he did not allow Axelsen to play his attacking game. It helped him to lead 7-4 and then 16-13 in the opening game, but Axelsen was always breathing down his neck and once the former’s forehand hit the net, the Dane was 19-18 up.

But, Kunlavut produced a sensational shot at the net to level the score. Axelsen sent one away from the Thai to earn a game point, but wasted it. He then lost a net duel and sent one wide to hand over the bragging rights to the young Thai.

In the second game, Axelsen galloped to an 8-3 lead and later took the match to the decider after Kunlavut made a pool of errors. In the third game, Kunlavut once again engaged Axelsen in long rallies and eked out a 7-5 lead after the Dane faltered on the front court. Soon, the Thai held a four-point advantage at the break.

Kunlavut tapped one away at the net to secure eight match points and then fell on his knees in joy as Axelsen erred while returning a short serve.

In the women’s final, An did not have a good start as Yamaguchi closed out the opening game comfortably. At the interval of the second game, the Korean was behind by two points after fluffing the lines. Pepped up after being motivated by coach Sung Ji Hyun, An picked up pace and tried to play more angled returns.

An made her opponent run from one corner to another using reverse slices and drops. The Japanese also missed the lines and fumbled at the net to allow the Korean to take the match to the third game. The decider was a physical battle as the duo engaged in some energy-sapping rallies. Yamaguchi came close at 11-13 but could not bridge the gap, with An grabbing eight match points and sealing it when the Japanese hit the net.

RESULTS: Final: Men: Kunlavut Vitidsarn bt Viktor Axelsen 22-20, 10-21, 21-12. Women: An Seyoung bt Akane Yamaguchi 15-21, 21-16, 21-12

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