BIRMINGHAM, England (Reuters) - Tai Tzu Ying may not consider herself to be “unique” despite receiving letters of praise from heads of state, but the Taiwanese can lay claim to being one of the most promising and laid-back players in women’s badminton.
To get a sense of her personality, the “funny, chatty and quirky” 20-year-old from Chinese Taipei admits she did not even know she was seeded for the All-England Championships.
The world number seven, however, has been making a name for herself at quite a rate since 2009, having been forced to take a year out from the game following a wrist injury.
Ying was thrust into the national squad for the first time in 2010 and in the same year, ranked world number 122, reached the Singapore Open final, only to be beaten by Saina Nehwal of India.
“I never have a goal in tournaments. If I achieve a result, then great, but if not I just move on,” she said.
“I play to have fun and it’s helped to develop my game. I don’t think about the match or the actual result. If I play freely, I can keep calm.”
Ying, whose career has been combined with studying sports science at university in Taipei, made the last 16 of the London 2012 Olympics where she was beaten by eventual champion Li Xuerui.
She won her first Superseries title, aged 18, at the Japan Open a few months later, but she laughs when recalling the victory, admitting that not many of the world’s best were there post-Olympics.
After winning her first BWF Superseries Finals in December, Ying received a congratulatory note from Taiwan president Ma Ying-jeou that “felt good but wasn’t really that exciting”.
“It’s not because I am unique, I am just lucky,” she said.
With a top-10 berth secure, the road to the Rio 2016 Olympics looks bright for the Taiwanese, whose career was forged thanks to her father, who played at amateur level.
“Being a leading player now I feel the pressure,” she said. “But my personality will hopefully keep me relaxed.”
Editing by Michael Hann