The Tai Tzu Ying symphony did not miss a beat today as her eclectic skills proved too hard for Pusarla V. Sindhu to overcome, and the world No.1 took the penultimate step for the biggest prize of all.
Tai is now assured of a medal – her best-ever performance at either the Olympics or the World Championships – and in doing so, achieved a second landmark for Chinese Taipei after her teammates Lee Yang/Wang Chi-Lin made the men’s doubles final yesterday. Her opponent in the final will be top seed Chen Yu Fei, against whom she holds a 15-3 record, but who has won two of their last three meetings.
Tai has often complained of the unforced errors that plague her game. Today she presented a more complete version of herself, making few errors while Pusarla, after a strong start, was forced to follow instead of setting the tune.
The Indian made early inroads with her heavy smashes, but once Tai had pulled off some of her maverick shots – the loopy drops, the held-back flicks, the delicate net shots – her confidence grew, and Pusarla, unable to control her lifts with the drift, was desperately trying to plug the gaps as points leaked.
“I’m a bit sad because it’s the semifinals, but I tried my best but it was just not my day,” said a downcast Pusarla. “I fought until the end. I was prepared for her skills, so I don’t think that troubled me a lot. At the end of the day the level of the semifinals is going to be really high – you can’t expect easy points. I just couldn’t be on the winning side.”
The world champion takes on He Bing Jiao for the bronze medal and aimed to shrug off the defeat and focus on the playoff.
“I think it’s going to be a bit sad but I need to concentrate on that. It’s not over yet. I still have a chance. So I hope I give my best.”
Tai, calm off-court as always, said it came down to the confidence she felt when she played error-free.
“I think I did pretty well today. I didn’t make any major mistakes. I think I did my best performance today. I think I’m the kind of player who makes mistakes, so today I reduced my mistakes and therefore didn’t have as much pressure as I used to.
“I was nervous but I’m not nervous about my next match, Maybe before the next match I will feel more nervous. I think Chen Yu Fei is a very stable player and I hope that when I get the chance I will reduce my mistakes.”