Vietnamese badminton star loses Germany Open final to Danish opponent

By Duc Dong   March 3, 2024 | 06:37 pm PT
Vietnamese badminton star loses Germany Open final to Danish opponent
A screenshot of Nguyen Thuy Linh (R) receiving the silver medal next to Mia Blichfeldt after the German Open final on March 3, 2024.
Vietnam's top female badminton player Nguyen Thuy Linh underperformed and lost to the sixth seed Mia Blichfeldt of Denmark in the final of the 2024 German Open.

Linh and Blichfeldt had previously met once, 10 years ago at the World Junior Mixed Team Badminton Championships, where the Vietnamese player won 2-1. Since then, Blichfeldt has won one title and finished runner-up twice at World Tour Super 300, a tournament system under the Badminton World Federation (BWF).

Sunday marked Linh's first final at a World Tour Super 300 tournament.

The lack of experience somewhat affected Linh's mentality. In the title match, she no longer had the support of American player Lauren Lam, who had acted as her coach since the round of 16, as she returned home. After making continuous errors, the 27-year-old trailed 3-8 then 7-11 before the mid-game break.

When the game resumed, Linh could not improve the situation. With advice from her coach, Blichfeldt found a way to neutralize the Vietnamese player's strikes, scoring a series of 10 points to lead 18-7. Linh managed to score three more points before losing the first set 11-21.

The Vietnamese badminton community and the crowd in Germany showed a lot of affection as they frequently cheered for Linh. However, she didn't have a coach to reassure her or give her advice as Lam did in the quarterfinals and semifinals.

In the second set, Linh scored first but was equalized quickly and began to fall behind. Her mistakes in net play allowed Blichfeldt to score nine points in a row, leading 11-2.

Blichfeldt, with a height of 1.72 m, long reach and good physical strength, delivered powerful shots, making it difficult for Linh to defend. In addition, the Danish player was fortunate as the shuttle often hit the net but fell onto Linh's side. The sixth seed finished the match with a score of 21-9, winning 2-0 overall.

Blichfeldt, currently ranked 22nd in the world, one place above Linh, defeated Keisha Fatimah Az Zahra (Azerbaijan), Aakarchi Kashyap (India), Sung Shuo Yun (Taiwan), and Michelle Li (Canada) on her way to the final. Blichfeldt only lost one set in this tournament, in the semifinal against Li. Linh's journey to the final was more challenging as she had to overcome Thailand's Ratchanok Intanon, who ranks 14th in the world, and South Korea's Kim Ga-eun, 13th.

Despite not winning the championship, reaching the final earned Linh 5,950 points on the ranking and a prize money of US$7,980. These added points will ensure her return to the top 20 in the next world ranking update by the BWF. After the German Open, Linh immediately headed to France to participate in a tournament starting on March 5.

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