Unstoppable Tai clinches OUE Singapore Open title
Cool and calm Taiwanese beats Olympic champion Marin in just 38 minutes
When the last shot landed on Carolina Marin's court yesterday, fans of Tai Tzu-ying, including those seated behind this reporter, leapt to their feet in celebration and surged forward to take pictures of their heroine on their mobile phones.
In contrast, the Taiwanese world No. 1 coolly walked to the sides to thank the service judge and umpire, before turning to all four corners of the Indoor Stadium to applaud her fans.
Almost shy, the 22-year-old smiled as she thanked the 6,500-strong crowd for their support, in her 21-15, 21-15 OUE Singapore Open women's singles final win over world No. 2 Marin.
"I felt like I was playing on homeground today," Tai said via a translator in a courtside interview.
"No matter where I play, I always feel like there's a lot of support, which helps me do well."
It was her fifth win in as many tournaments since her Hong Kong Open victory last November, and her first in Singapore.
"I don't feel anything special (about this achievement), I just hope everyone can be happy watching me play, and that I can enjoy playing on court," the soft-spoken Tai said with a smile, during the post-match media conference.
The cool customer was far from being indifferent in her success though.
She and her coach briefly met with Taiwan fans outside the stadium after the press session, bowing slightly as she was congratulated by the crowd of about 20, and posing for pictures with them.
Tai took the error-strewn match in just 38 minutes by controlling her game better than she did in her 21-19, 21-15 semi-final win over Zhang Beiwen on Saturday.
"She (Marin) seemed to be in a rush to 'kill' me... and I knew that I had to be very patient to play her."Taiwan's Tai Tzu-ying, who beat Carolina Marin 21-15, 21-15 in the OUE S'pore Open women's singles final
Tai said: "At the start, I forced myself to get into the rhythm quickly and the result was not bad.
"She (Marin) seemed to be in a rush to 'kill' me and made a lot of errors, and I knew that I had to be very patient to play her."
Tai added that she was mentally prepared for a three-game final against the Spaniard, as she took 86 minutes to beat the same opponent 23-25, 22-20, 21-13 in the Malaysia Open final the Sunday before.
An emotional Marin could only rue screwing up her mental game in the final yesterday.
The reigning Olympic champion said: "I am really disappointed today, I couldn't keep my focus and was so negative on the court."
"I felt really bad, I didn't fight and was unhappy with how I managed the game," said the 23-year-old, who is known for her mental fortitude.
"I need to work hard if I really want to become the world No. 1 again."
While Tai seems unstoppable now with her five consecutive title wins, she said that there are still chinks in her armour to mend.
"I am not very consistent. If my opponent (in the semi-finals) did not make as many errors as I did, I would have lost yesterday.
"I need to learn how to control my game when things are not going my way as well."
Asked how she would celebrate her victory, a smiling Tai said: "I think I will just eat, there's a lot of good food in Singapore that I couldn't eat during the competition, but I haven't thought of what to eat."
- Men's singles final: Sai Praneeth (Ind) beat Srikanth Kidambi (Ind) 17-21, 21-17, 21-12
- Women's singles final: Tai Tzu-ying (Tpe) beat Carolina Marin (Spa) 21-15, 21-15
- Men's doubles final: Mathias Boe/Carsten Mogensen (Den) beat Li Junhui/Liu Yuchen (Chn) 21-13, 21-14
- Women's doubles final: Kamilla Rytter Juhl/Christinna Pedersen (Den) beat Misaki Matsutomo/Ayaka Takahashi (Jpn) 21-18, 14-21, 21-15
- Mixed doubles final: Lu Kai/Huang Yaqiong (Chn) beat Dechapol Puavaranukroh/Sapsiree Taerattanachai (Tha) 19-21, 21-16, 21-11