TAI Tzu Ying is the Champion again at the World Tour Finals – this is a triumph we will savour in years to come. Her resilience and will-to-win carried her through an incredible weekend to finish at the top of the podium.
Screengrab courtesy of BWF TV
After coming back from the dead against AN Se Young in their semifinal TAI Tzu Ying faced Carolina Marin in the last match of 2023 to battle for Gold. Marin is always an intimidating opponent and her form this week – her touch and focus – meant that this was going to be a huge task for the Queen.
Two battle-scarred athletes faced each other over the net. The slow hall allowed Marin a few microseconds of advantage to neutralize Tzu Ying’s natural game. TTY appeared a bit leggy at the beginning and Marin dominated the early exchanges to close out the first set 21-12.
The second set started, and TTY was struggling to reach the shots from Carolina that stretched her sideways. Her left leg was obviously strapped, and her opponent was good at exploiting this. Advantage to the Spaniard at the break 11-9. Then, a shift in the balance of power. TAI won 6 points in a row, and Marin was making some mistakes under pressure. Both players are running on ‘old legs’ these days; both are a little slower and less agile than 5 years ago. TTY rode the momentum she had generated and levelled up the contest, winning the second set 21-14.
The decider started evenly but there was a moment when TAI was 8-9 behind that produced a pivotal shot. Under extreme pressure and suffering with her troublesome left knee she executed a magnificent backhand crosscourt net shot that skimmed along the net cord like a flat pebble across still water and dropped to Marin’s side of the court. 9-9 and she was immediately infused with self-belief whilst Carolina started to deflate.
Watching fans hardly dared to hope as suddenly TAI Tzu Ying seized the advantage. Six points in a row took her to 18-12 and although Carolina fought courageously, she could not disrupt the passages of play enough to get back into the match. 21-18 and the title went to The Queen.
TAI Tzu Ying’s first victory at the World Tour Finals was ten years ago in 2014. This is her fourth title at the season-ending extravaganza and the sweetest, as the campaign this year has been extraordinary and one for us all to relish. The semi-final against AN Se Young felt like the thousandth meeting this year. We all thought that we knew the script as the head-to-head was 10-2 in the Korean’s favour but in an epic match TTY forced an incredible win against the odds.
This is a well-deserved victory. A reward for never giving up, for hard work and for being true to herself. Huge congratulations to Tzu Ying for a remarkable week and heartfelt thanks from all her fans for a wonderful weekend’s play.
If you enjoyed this then take a look at some of my other articles about TAI Tzu Ying on my blog https://womensbadminton.co.uk/2023/10/22/tai-tzu-yings-500-wins-excellence-unlimited/ about the 500 wins milestone or this one from a while ago about the incredible team who support her https://womensbadminton.co.uk/2021/02/25/team-tai-tzu-ying/
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