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15 Apr, 2019
In the last one month and half, Tai Tzu Ying, has been in the finals of three world major finals, comfortably winning two and competing hard in the other. For some players, two major wins in the calendar year makes for a fantastic year on the tour, not for the likes of Tai Tzu though – for her it was just another month, and we’re still in the middle of April.
Tai Tzu has now remained world number one player for 51-weeks straight and before that had a minor dip to world number two for two weeks in mid-April 2018. We’ll have to go as far back as 2016 November for the time when Tai Tzu spent any considerable time, not being the undisputed world leader in women’s singles.
Consistency has been Tai Tzu’s biggest strength and it is evident in her performances this year. She began the year with a QFs finish at the Malaysian Masters. It was early in the season and she did look rusty in her match against Ratchanok Inthanon. A month later, Tai Tzu was at the All England in early March and clearly upped her game.
Taking down the likes of Michelle Li, Beiwen Zhang, Saina Nehwal, and Akane Yamaguchi she made it to the finals of the All England Open having just lost one game all week long. In the finals though, she came up against Chen Yufei and lost the finals 17-21 17-21.
Back to the Asian environs, Tai Tzu started the Malaysian Open as one of the favorites and she rocked the tournament, winning it without losing even a single game. She avenged her All England loss to Chen Yufei by beating her in the semi-finals 21-14 21-19, and then went on to make short work of Akane Yamaguchi in the finals.
In the just concluded Singapore Open, she began with a little bit of a difficulty against Beiwen Zhang, as she was stretched into the third game. Sung Ji in the QFs and Akane Yamaguchi in the SFs did have their moments to take down Tai Tzu but she held her nerve and sealed both matches in the deciding games.
The finals of the Singapore Open pit her against current world number three Nozomi Okuhara. Tai Tzu took the hard fought first game 21-19 and then took the second one with relative ease at 21-15. That comes two titles in two weeks of April, and had there been a third major championship, who’d bet against her from winning that!
As the Olympic Qualifications and then eventually the Olympics 2020 come up on the horizon, it is the dream that Tai Tzu wants to fulfill before hanging up her racquet. She’s been remarkably consistent, supremely fit and almost robotically precise in her shot making. So an Olympic Gold at Osaka next year is indeed a realistic possibility for the Taiwanese champion.
But there’s plenty of time before that, and she’d surely like to add a bag full of tour titles before we get to Osaka in 2020.