Taipei, Jan. 10 (CNA) Taiwan's Tai Tzu-ying (戴資穎) is just two matches away from winning the Malaysia Masters title after overcoming her Indian opponent in the quarterfinals of the women's singles event in Kuala Lumpur on Friday.
The top-seeded Tai, who is currently ranked second in the world, defeated defending world champion Pusarla Sindhu 21-16, 21-16 in 36 minutes.
In a tight first game, Tai and Sindhu exchanged the lead multiple times and were deadlocked at 15-15 before the Taiwanese ran off six of the next seven points to take the game.
Tai continued her hot run by taking a commanding 11-2 lead in the second game. Sindhu closed the lead to five on a string of Tai errors, but the top seed was able to stem her opponent's rally and close out the match.
With the win, Tai improved her record against Sindhu to 12-5, but the Indian won their biggest encounter, in the round of 16 at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
The Taiwanese will next face seventh-seed He Bingjiao of China in Saturday's semifinal. The two did not face each other in 2019, but they played five times in 2018, and Tai won four of them.
The Malaysia Masters is the first big badminton tournament of the year, a Super 500 World Tour tournament, and has a total purse of US$400,000.
It also will count toward Olympic qualifying, which includes all events until April 26, 2020.
Perhaps more importantly for Tai, who will have no problem qualifying for the Olympics, it will figure into the rankings that will determine how players are seeded in the Olympic singles draw in Tokyo.
The seeds will be allotted based on the BWF rankings as of July 9, 2020.
A higher seeding means a potentially more favorable draw, which Tai did not get in Rio.