OLYMPICS/Tai Tzu-ying advances to Olympic badminton quarterfinals

07/28/2021 11:34 AM
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Taiwanese badminton ace Tai Tzu-ying swings her racket in a women
Taiwanese badminton ace Tai Tzu-ying swings her racket in a women's singles group match at the Tokyo Olympics Wednesday

Tokyo, July 28 (CNA) The true test now begins for Taiwan's top-ranked badminton star Tai Tzu-ying (戴資潁) at the Tokyo Olympics.

Tai clinched a spot in the final eight of the Olympic badminton women's singles Wednesday after completing a sweep of her preliminary round group matches with a comfortable 21-10, 21-13 victory over Chinese-born French player Qi Xuefei (齊雪霏).

Tai was barely tested in any of her three group matches, but looming is a much tougher encounter with the winner of the round of 16 match between Thailand's Ratchanok Intanon, who has beaten Tai on multiple occasions, or Gregoria Tunjung of Indonesia.

Asked whom she would want to face, Tai joked: "I just want them to play a long match. After that, either one will be fine with me."

Tai said she has set her sights on winning her first Olympic medal in Tokyo, after bowing out in the round of 16 in London in 2012 and Rio in 2016, but she knows the competition will stiffen.

"I'll try hard to reduce my mistakes but I don't care who I face," she said. "I do know many people care about me, and I'll do my best not to let them down."

There were 14 preliminary groups in the women's singles, and the winners of 12 of the 14 groups will play each other in the round of 16. But Tai gets an automatic bye into the quarterfinals by virtue of being one of the tournament's top two seeds.

The bye will allow Tai to rest rather than playing an extra match, but she will be without the benefit of having been challenged in any of her group matches, all of which she won in straight games.

Qi provided little resistance, her movement still limited by an apparent knee injury she suffered in recent months, but Tai did get sloppy at times, especially early in the second game, a tendency that could cost her against better opponents.

Though the world no. 1's goal is clearly a medal, she did become the third Taiwanese to advance to the quarterfinals of the women's singles in badminton at an Olympic Games after Huang Chia-chi (黃嘉琪) in Sydney in 2000 and Cheng Shao-chieh (鄭韶婕) in Athens in 2004.

Tai's next match is currently scheduled for July 30.

(By Lung Po-an and Frances Huang)

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