Culminating her incredible run of form in the last couple of weeks, 17-year old South Korean AN Se Young stunned Olympic champion Carolina Marin in the final of French Open to lift her maiden Super 750 title.
She had last week defeated World Champion PV Sindhu in Denmark Open in one of the early rounds but couldn't reach the final. This week, she got the better of India's former world no. 1 Saina Nehwal in the quarters and then, second-seeded Japanese Akane Yamaguchi in the semis to reach the title contest.
The match started well for the Spaniard Marin as she took a lead. But then, Young fought back and managed to go into the mid-game interval ahead of the 3-time World Champion. However, Marin then became more aggressive and used her speed and power to charge ahead. The Korean kept fighting but eventually the game belonged to the Olympic gold medalist.
It seemed that the power game of Marin and the high speed at which she was playing would prove too hard for the teenager to cope with. But in the second game, the latter showed that she is ready for any type of challenge. Despite Marin attacking her backhand side, Young kept hitting the shuttle back and made her senior opponent work hard for every point.
What makes the South Korean an exceptional talent is her ability to retrieve even the most difficult shots from her opponents and great net-play. Along with that, she also possesses a great cross-court smash from around the head position. All these qualities came to her use as she kept herself just ahead for most of the second game before establishing a solid lead towards the end to take the match into a deciding final game.
The third game turned out to be an anti-climax as the Olympic champion lost control and started missing the lines. Perhaps she was tired after putting in a lot of effort in the first two games. But Young, who had fought desperately for every point earlier in the contest was now coasting along easily against her much more fancied opponent.
At the mid-game interval, the Korean was leading 11-3 and after it, the lead swelled to 20-3. Marin looked resigned to the fact that the game is gone. The number of errors from her increased and the body language conveyed that the end is near. In the end, the 17-year old sealed the match 16-21, 21-18, 21-5 to announce her arrival on the big stage. Other players, watch out!