The world No.1 doesn’t have a medal from two previous Olympics or five World Championships, and although she believes she is in good touch, she is also acutely conscious that her tendency to make errors means it could all fall apart.
“I feel that the Olympic Games is a sacred and significant event. That’s why I really hope that I can win a medal,” said the Chinese Taipei shuttler, who has won every other major title.
“When I played in my first Olympics in London in 2012, I was very young. I didn’t overthink, just went all out. In my second Olympics in Rio, I put a lot of pressure on myself. Plus, I was injured so my performance wasn’t ideal. As for this year’s Olympics, I feel that I’ve reached a satisfactory level in match performance. However, there are instances where I might not just lose to top-ranked players, sometimes I might also lose to opponents lower in the ranking. This is my biggest weakness. This Olympics will be a big challenge for me because I can’t control my level of play to be at the best, in order to win matches.”
Tai’s caution about her level of play against lower-ranked opponents might serve her well, for she is in tricky Group P with Qi Xuefei, Thuy Linh Nguyen and Sabrina Jaquet. The quarterfinal might have a more severe test, in the form of Ratchanok Intanon, who has a 14-15 record against her.
Tai had a strong start to the year, making all three finals of the Asian Leg and winning the third, the HSBC BWF World Tour Finals 2020. Still, she is not particularly thrilled with her level of play.
“There isn’t a tournament that I’m especially satisfied with. I have a tendency to make many errors during my match, I think this has to do with my style of play. I have high expectations of my play, I hope that my shots land at the exact spot that I want to, which leads to many errors. If I were to change to a more steady and safe playing style, I might lose my way of winning points.”
Irrespective of what happens, Tai is sure that the Olympics is her last major event.
“This Olympics will be my last major tournament before I hang up my racket. I have yet to decide if I will continue to play after the Olympics. I have not made a firm decision.
“I feel that I’ve aged and suffer from more injuries. It’s more about my recovery, I also have more niggling aches and pains. I didn’t used to feel like this. I usually recovered after a short while but now I take longer in rehab.”