Friday, July 19, 2024

Singapore Open: Buoyancy Restored

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An Se Young arrived at KFF Singapore Open 2024 unsure of her level after taking a month off competition to get her fitness back.

A week later, all her doubts have been put to rest – she is now the first player since Chinese legend Wang Yihan 10 years ago to defend the women’s singles crown at the event. With each match, the indecisions slowly disappeared, in came the poise and acrobatics that defined her game in 2023.

An now heads to Jakarta for the Super 1000 Indonesia Open 2024 grateful things are falling into place at an opportune moment.

“This experience of playing my own game and becoming a champion (two months) before the Olympics is important, especially in preparation for Paris 2024. It’s a big confidence-booster,” said the world No.1 after overcoming Tokyo 2020 gold medallist Chen Yu Fei 21-19 16-21 21-12 in the final.

A month ago at the Uber Cup in Chengdu, the Korean aggravated her knee injury and sat out the 3-2 semifinal loss to Indonesia. There were question marks over her condition coming into the Singapore Open.

“Those doubts sometimes put a lot of pressure on me. Now it’s all about believing in myself (again),” said the 22-year-old.

“All the lessons from those hard times, I’m just thankful for. I want to thank my coach and trainers (but) I don’t think I can put it into words. I’m so happy I’m able to repay the times we cried and laughed together. Those times were burdensome and difficult.”

Chen and An in action.

The successful title defence, on her return to competitive action, erased the frowns that were visible in the first couple of matches, and more importantly brought back that cheekiness the world champion is known for.

“I was on very tough training to get back my form. If I had lost, you guys would have reported I lacked stamina and my coach would have pushed me harder. That’s why I was obsessed about winning every single point,” a much-relaxed An joked.

Next on the to-do list – go for a second Indonesia Open title, having won in 2021. The draw has An opening her campaign against Japanese youngster Tomoka Miyazaki on Wednesday.

“The biggest takeaway from here is I have a lot of confidence now. In Jakarta, I want to win every single match.”

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