Former World No. 1 Tai Tzu Ying has been the thorn in the eyes of shuttlers Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu, having beaten them on numerous occasions, but if given the opportunity to pick between the two, the Taiwanese badminton player revealed she would pick world gold medallist Sindhu over her fellow Indian.
Tai Tzu became the World No. 1 at the age of 22 and holds the record for the longest reign at the top of the BWF rankings before being dethroned by Nozomi Okuhara not too long ago. Tai Tzu once again got the better of Sindhu, earlier this month, pipping her 21-16, 21-16 in the quarterfinal of the Malaysia Masters but feels facing the Indian is tough given her height and quick movement.
“Sindhu is tough. She is tall and fast which makes her tougher to play against. And those hard smashes are difficult to answer. But I try to find ways to control the pace of her game and then play my style of badminton. People say that my strokes are different but I just play the way I feel like at that moment. My goal is to enjoy the moment,” Okuhara told Times of India.
“I just play my game. It may seem comfortable because I enjoy playing even during a tense situation, but it is more important that I don’t make many mistakes in the game. Saina is a very determined player. She never gives up. Sindhu is good with pace and power. I make silly mistakes at times which are very basic, which most shuttlers won’t do in normal circumstances but I tend to do. So, my aim is to make fewer mistakes.”
Despite boasting a superior one-on-one record against Sindhu, Tai Tzu has lost to the Indian shuttler in two of the biggest tournaments – the BWF Championships last year and the Rio Olympics in 2016. At the Olympics, Sindhu registered her first win over Tai Tzu in seven meetings when she bounced back from a first game defeat to win the match 14-21, 21-16, 21-18 that lasted more than an hour. And last year, Sindhu overcame her opponent in 12-21, 23-21 and 21-19 in a pulsating contest at the worlds and had her beat.
“I don’t think about the losses but yes, I want to win in Tokyo. Everyone comes to win. How you cut down on mistakes and improvise your game on court when things don’t work as per plan is what matters,” she said.
Despite ruling the ranking, Tai Tzu has never won an Olympics or World’s gold, of which she has to say: “No particular reason as such. I am working to keep the mistakes in check and be at the prime of my fitness. I also give equal weight to mental health. I consider taking care of mental and physical health simultaneously is equally important.”