Last year, Tai Tzu Ying arrived in Guangzhou for the HSBC BWF World Tour Finals on the back of a blitzkrieg that saw her win eight titles.
Over the last 12 months, the Chinese Taipei star has had a more earthy season, winning titles in Malaysia, Singapore and Denmark, but looking some way off the commanding presence she had in 2018.
As she embarks on her quest for her third season-ending title, Tai acknowledged that her performances this year hadn’t matched up to the standards of the previous one.
“I think my performances of this season are not as good as last season because I focused more on the top tournaments,” said Tai, who will take on Nozomi Okuhara in her first Group B match today.
“I want to perform better when I need it, in important matches. This season, I’d wanted to push myself and have the breakthrough at the World Championships, but meanwhile, all my opponents were in good form as well.”
Tai had retired injured from her last tournament, the Fuzhou China Open, due to a niggle in her knee. Tai said she’d recovered and was feeling fine.
“I was injured so I missed the Hong Kong Open as well. I rested for a while and then returned to training because I wanted to attend the Finals.”
Despite the intensity of the coming season, Tai has chosen to play the Premier Badminton League, explaining that she viewed it as part of her training.
“It’s my way of training by participating in a competition,” said Tai. “I think the Indian league is very interesting and attractive, and I get to play with top players.”
Among her competitors, she believes Chen Yu Fei and An Se Young are the ones to watch out for.
“Chen always improves herself during the tournament. I can learn a lot from her, especially her stable condition during the match. An Se Young reminds me of myself at the beginning of my career. She fights for each point, each game and she plays with power. I believe she will have a good future. The similarity between the two is that they’re both very stable with few mistakes in each match.”
Tai has won the season finale twice, in 2014 and 2016. This year she’s in a group that includes Okuhara, Ratchanok Intanon and Busanan Ongbamrungphan.