World No. 1 Taiwanese captures first title of the year (update)

Taipei-Taiwan's Tai Tzu-ying (???) easily dispatched old foe Saina Nehwal of India at the Indonesia Masters on Sunday to secure her first women's singles badminton title of the young season.

The world No. 1, who had an 8-5 career mark against Nehwal and had won their last six encounters dating back to 2014, was in control throughout the match and overwhelmed her Indian opponent 21-9, 21-13 in just 27 minutes.

The 23-year-old Taiwanese said she was happy to win the title, especially because another of the major events on her calendar this year, the Asian Games in late August, will also be held in Jakarta.

"I'm happy that I was able to play all the way to today, because the more I played, the more I was able to get ready for future events here," Tai said.

Nehwal had hoped on Saturday after reaching the finals with a 21-19, 21-19 win over recent Tai nemesis Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand, that her form and fitness had finally returned after a 2017 marred by injuries.

"I have the confidence, because I have beaten these players before. But the touch was missing. I was not able to cross the rounds because my fitness was not up to the mark. But in this tournament, I can see that my fitness is good. I'm able to hit well, move well," the former world No. 1 and 2012 Olympic bronze medalist said.

"Hopefully, (tomorrow) will be like a dream come true."

But Tai made sure to put that dream on hold, jumping out to a 10-2 lead in the first game and a 9-3 lead in the second game to leave no doubt about the outcome.

The 23-year-old Taiwanese, known for keeping opponents off-balance with shots that are hard to read, reached the finals of her first tournament of the year, last week's Malaysia Masters, but fell to Intanon 21-16, 14-21, 24-22.

She is hoping to build on an incredible 2017, when she solidified her world No. 1 ranking by winning the All England Open, Malaysia Open, Singapore Open, and Badminton Asia Championships in succession early in the year and later captured the French Open and Hong Kong Open.

Aside from the Asian Games, Tai said Sunday the other big tournament she is targeting this year is the World Championships, to be played in Nanjing, China in late July.

Tai missed last year's World Championships to play in the Universiade being held in Taipei, where she faced little competition and won the gold medal in women's singles easily.

Tai was the only Taiwanese who reached a final at the BWF World Tour Super 500 event being held in Jakarta.

Taiwan's Chou Tien-chen reached the semifinals of the men's singles on Saturday before falling to Anthony Ginting of Indonesia.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel