French Open: Old Demons Return to Haunt Tai Tzu Ying

Just when it appeared Tai Tzu Ying had quelled the old malignant spirits of her mind – the ones that cause her to fritter away leads and go on erratic tangents – they returned. The world No.2 had been on a great run lately, powered by her determination to be patient and not take extreme risks.

Whatever it was that caused those spirits to resurface in the semifinals today against An Se Young, they left in their wake a visibly distraught Tai, who was the better player on the day, but who couldn’t quite finish the job.

An benefitted from Tai’s errors.

An herself heaved a sigh of relief after the match. “I was lucky today,” she said. “I thought I had lost.”

The errors came in sudden, unbroken spells. In the opening game, from 12-all, Tai made nine consecutive errors to hand her opponent the lead. In the second, she was 12-6 up, only for An to catch up at 14. The pattern was to repeat in the third, with Tai leading 14-7 and then four match points at 20-16 before falling apart.

Yet, between spells of erratic play, Tai hit some astonishing high spots, conjuring shots of breathtaking beauty. An – still on the mend from a knee injury – was dragged to the corners of the court and struggled to stay in the rallies, grimacing in pain at her coach between points. At 18-11 in the third, it was Tai’s match to close, but in a pattern that has played out many times before, the world No.3 couldn’t make it count on those final points.

“I feel bad that in the third game I had the lead until 20. I was not resilient enough to close out the match,” said Tai. “Maybe I was not determined enough on every point. I feel she’s so difficult, it’s hard to get through her.”

An will take on Akane Yamaguchi, who declared that she had finally recovered from a right foot injury that has dogged her for many months. Yamaguchi held off defending champion Chen Yu Fei 21-15 18-21 22-20 to make her first final since the Hong Kong Open last September.

“I’m so happy that I’m back in a final after struggling with injury,” said Yamaguchi. “Also, I’ve played this tournament in really good condition and I’m so satisfied with my performance all through the tournament. Chen is always so strong.

“The atmosphere and the cheering from the fans is lovely, and I look forward to playing in France.”

Other Highlights

World champions Seo Seung Jae/Chae Yu Jung made their first final of the year beating Dechapol Puavaranukroh/Sapsiree Taerattanachai 21-18 21-16 after coming back from 16-8 down in the first game.

Mixed doubles defending champions Jiang Zhen Bang/Wei Ya Xin were stopped by compatriots Feng Yan Zhe/Huang Dong Ping, who also made their first final of the year.


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