Nguyen Thuy Linh holds his gold medal at the Vietnam Open on September 17, 2023. Photo by VnExpress/Duc Dong
In the semifinals, Linh (27th in the world rankings) scored an intense victory against another Japanese player, Suizu Manami, while Kurihara (156th) saved energy after her opponent gave up.
However, with home court advantage and as the defending champion, Linh took the lead with smart moves and powerful baseline shots, winning the first set 21-14.
The second set saw Kurihara return to the lead while Linh lacked precision. She often hit out of bounds and quickly lost 21-11.
In the third set, Linh’s stamina was low and she could not maintain a good position against Kurihara. The Japanese player looked set to win the final as she led 16-11, while Linh was tired and had to sit down several times to catch her breath.
Nguyen Thuy Linh’s stamina is low during the final match of the Vietnam Open, September 17, 2023. Photo by VnExpress/Duc Dong
However, with her winning mentality, Linh did not give up. She got back up and scored five consecutive points to level 17-17, then led 20-17. Although Kurihara salvaged two points, Linh managed to secure the 21-19 victory. After the decisive point, she lay on the court, with no energy to celebrate.
Before the final, Linh said that constantly participating in recent tournaments had drained his stamina and killed his enthusiasm.
Linh received $7,600 for her title and accumulated more points to aim for Olympic qualification in Paris next year.
The 2023 Vietnam Open is a Badminton World Federation tournament. It takes place every year in HCMC and is the largest badminton tournament in Vietnam. The prize pool for this year’s tournament was $100,000, more than last year’s $75,000.