A Tour that's been missing the brute force of Carolina Marin for the greater part of the year, has landed itself a teenaged world beater in An Seyoung. On Saturday, the 19 year-old from Gwangju took little over half an hour to end PV Sindhu's hopes of a second year-ender title, 21-16, 21-12. Counting the World Tour Finals crown this weekend, the Korean becomes only the second ever women's singles player, after Ratchanok Intanon, to win three titles in as many weeks.
An, who broke into the Korean national team at 15, can force opponents to fall into her rhythm, a conveyor belt of clears, retrieves and control. It can strip players of their pace, defuse attacks and force errors. The world No 6, who sported two tapings on her right leg, one above her knee and the other around her shin, reportedly switched her core style of play - from attack to defense, a couple of years ago, since she felt a purely offensive game was tiring her out quickly.
On Sunday, Sindhu began with a flurry of errors, as An opened up an early lead. An's anticipation was rarely off key, inching sideways to lie in wait for Sindhu's cross court drives to arrive. The Indian probed An's backhand defense and managed to build a string of points towards the close of the first game, doing exactly the kind of things that can trouble An - pushing the pace and picking the shuttle early.
Working on a cue from an animated coach Park Tae Sang at the break to up her aggression, Sindhu picked up two early points in the second game. After the first six points, though, she began rapidly falling behind - a weak backhand lift, a cross court slice that landed untouched on her forehand side, an undercooked smash that found the net, and Sindhu was sliding. She'd lost the first game, was trailing 9-16 in the second and was staring at a point of no return. A poor forehand lift from Sindhu later, An let out a squeal of joy and held up her arms. She appeared to have cracked a pet pose for cameras - pointing towards the tiny Korean flag on the upper left corner of her t-shirt and then holding up her index finger.
Sindhu, who has now lost to An on all three occasions they've played each other, was disappointed that she let her opponent off the hook early. "An is a good player...I shouldn't have given her the lead from the beginning. I tried to cover a few points but had I controlled it from the start it may have changed a few things...It's a bit sad. I've lots to learn."
An invited Sindhu to share the winner's podium for the cameras, and cracking up, stood on the balls of her feet, as a tease to their height disparity. In two weeks' time, in a title Sindhu will be defending, the Korean could well be doing it all over again.