OUE Singapore Open 2017

Badminton: Truly lip-smacking clash for women's final

Tai Tzu-ying playing an overhead drop shot against Zhang Beiwen. She will have to raise her game against Carolina Marin in today's final.
Tai Tzu-ying playing an overhead drop shot against Zhang Beiwen. She will have to raise her game against Carolina Marin in today's final.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

World No. 2 Marin in ruthless form, while top seed Tai labours into women's final

One could become the first women's singles player to chalk up five Superseries trophies in a row, lifting as many titles as she has entered since last November's Hong Kong Open.

The other, back at her top form after three finals in as many weeks, is on a thirsty hunt for glory after a seven-month title drought.

The OUE Singapore Open women's singles final today will pit Tai Tzu-ying against Carolina Marin, two of the game's most in-form shuttlers against each other, in a repeat of last week's Malaysia Open final.

The shuttlers, however, booked their spots in the final in contrasting fashion.

Reigning Olympic champion Marin's desire for silverware, after going without a title since last year's Rio Games, has been on strong display over the past week at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.

The Spaniard posted another ruthless victory yesterday, dismantling South Korean world No. 3 Sung Ji Hyun 21-9, 21-12 in their semi-final clash. The world No. 2's speed and strength was in stark contrast to a listless Sung, who could come up with no solutions as she often stared blankly into space with her hands on her hips.

  • TODAY’S FINALS

  • StarHub Ch203, 1pm

    MIXED DOUBLES

    Lu Kai/Huang Yaqiong (Chn) v Dechapol Puavaranukroh/Sapsiree Taerattanachai (Tha)

  • WOMEN’S DOUBLES

    Misaki Matsutomo/Ayaka Takahashi (Jpn) v Kamilla Rytter Juhl/Christinna Pedersen (Den)

  • MEN’S SINGLES

    B. Sai Praneeth (Ind) v K. Srikanth (Ind)

  • WOMEN’S SINGLES

    Tai Tzu-ying (Tpe) v Carolina Marin (Esp)

  • MEN’S DOUBLES

    Mathias Boe/Carsten Mogensen (Den) v Li Junhui/Liu Yuchen (Chn)

Said Marin, who also made the India Open final a fortnight ago: "I feel really happy to reach three finals in a row. It's really difficult but tomorrow will be a different day."

Breaking out in a smile at the thought of a first trophy since her famous victory in Brazil, she added: "I'm looking forward to tomorrow.

"I just want to keep my focus, think about every game that I have to play and the rest will come."

Marin's form this week means Tai is well aware that a performance like the one she posted yesterday would put her out of contention swiftly.

While the Taiwanese beat Zhang Beiwen, a Singapore citizen representing the United States, 21-19, 21-15 in their semi-final, it was an error-strewn affair.

The world No. 1 had a shaky start in the opening game and committed several service errors.

Her shot placement was also uncharacteristically imprecise.

"I really laboured for the win today," said the 22-year-old, adding that she probably did not adjust well to a different court.

"I'm going to be my biggest challenge tomorrow. If I don't make too many mistakes, I will have a shot against Marin, but if I play like I did today, I'll be out in no time."

Marin and Tai will take the court after their male counterparts, in an all-Indian men's singles final between B. Sai Praneeth and K. Srikanth, a match expected to draw a strong and boisterous crowd.

The 24-year-olds both won their semi-finals easily yesterday. World No. 30 Sai Praneeth bulldozed past South Korean world No. 35 Lee Dong Keun 21-6, 21-8.

Srikanth (world No. 29) beat Indonesian world No. 26 Anthony Sinisuka Ginting 21-13, 21-14.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 16, 2017, with the headline 'Truly lip-smacking clash'. Print Edition | Subscribe