HYDERABAD, India – Spain’s Carolina Marin continued her impressive run of form at India’s Premier Badminton League tournament, helping the Hyderabad Hunters reach the final by rallying to defeat South Korea’s Sung Ji-hyun 12-15, 15-10, 15-9 on Friday night.
The reigning Olympic women’s singles gold medalist and 2014 and 2015 world champion earned her second victory of this international team tournament against Sung, having defeated her in straight games on Dec. 31. She is a perfect 5-0 in her matches leading up to the championship round.
After losing the first game, Marin stormed out to a 4-0 lead in the second and then forced a decider when her opponent, the women’s singles player for the Delhi Dashers, hit a smash wide on game point.
The Spaniard remained in control in the third game and clinched victory thanks to a series of errors by Sung.
The Dashers had taken a 1-0 lead in the tournament’s first semifinal when Russia’s Vladimir Ivanov and India’s Ashwini Ponnappa defeated India’s Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Indonesia’s Pia Zebadiah Bernadeth 13-15, 15-10, 15-10 in the mixed doubles.
But things went downhill quickly for the New Delhi club, which lost two straight “trump” matches to lose the semifinal tie 3-0.
First, the Dashers lost their trump match when China’s Tian Houwei fell 15-9, 15-8 to India’s B. Sai Praneeth. The Hunters then won their trump match when Marin topped Sung.
Under tournament rules, each side is allowed to designate one contest per five-match tie as its trump match. A victory in that match earns a team two points instead of just one, but a loss results in a point being taken away.
In Sunday’s final, the Hunters will square off against the winner of Saturday’s second semifinal: either the Ahmedabad Smash Masters or the Begaluru Blasters.
A Hunters-Smash Masters showdown would be particularly intriguing in the women’s singles category, as Marin would square off against Taiwan’s Tai Tzu-ying, who wrested away the No. 1 spot in the rankings from the Spaniard in late 2016 and has held it for the past 13 months.
Tai has a 5-4 edge in her career meetings against Marin, who is currently the world No. 4.
Those two players were to have met in a round-robin match earlier in the tournament, but Marin was unable to play due to illness.