By Blythe Lawrence | Sept. 30, 2018, 10:33 a.m. (ET)

Beiwen Zhang competes in badminton at the Badminton Korea Open on Sept. 30, 2018 in Seoul, South Korea.

 

Badminton ace Beiwen Zhang came away with a silver medal at the Victor Korea Open Saturday in Seoul, her third podium finish in three BWF World Tour events this year.

Chinese-born Zhang, who has played for Team USA since 2013 after representing her native country and Singapore, defeated 2015 world bronze medalist Sung Ji-hyun to reach the final in the Korean capital. 

Though Sung had been the victor in all of their previous meetings, this time fate favored Zhang, who used her experience to defeat 16-year-old Vaishnavi Reddy Jakka of India and 18-year-old Cai Yanyan of China, as well as Scotland’s Kirsty Gilmour en route to the semifinal. 

Zhang relied on her trademark no-nonsense style to set Sung off balance in front of her home crowd and eventually came away with the 21-18, 21-19 win. Defeating Sung earned Zhang the right to face to face a familiar rival in the final: reigning world champion Nozomi Okuhara of Japan, the women’s singles bronze medalist from the Olympic Games Rio 2016.

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Okuhara, whose quick, aggressive style sets competitors on the run, handily won the first set 21-10, but Zhang rallied to take the second 21-17. With the title on the line, Okuhara jumped out to an early lead before Zhang rallied to tie the score at 10 all. The 28-year-old struggled with her control through the next several points but rallied again to come as close as 14-15.

From there, Okuhara took control of the game, outlasting Zhang to win the match 21-16, and with it the tournament, in 52 minutes. Sung and Japan’s Akane Yamaguchi each took bronze. 

For Zhang, who won the India Open earlier this season and was runner up to 2012 Olympic champion Li Xuerui at the U.S. Open, the silver medal in Korea still represents a victory of sorts in terms of figuring out how to play successfully against Okuhara.

“I used to be more impatient while playing her,” said Zhang, who has now faced Okuhara five times and has yet to win against her. “Today, I was more patient. I think my performance was good. My stamina isn’t at her level — she can run longer than me, and her stamina is better than mine.”

Blythe Lawrence is a journalist based in Seattle. She has covered two Olympic Games and is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.