World number one Tai Tzu Ying reveals she will be up for the challenge at the 2017 Singapore Open, starting 11 April, which will also be the shuttler's first appearance in the new season after her season-ending title at the Dubai World Superseries last year.
The Taiwanese shuttler exited the tournament last year as early as in the opening round after losing to China's He Bingjiao but had been consistent since then winning at Indonesia, Hong Kong and then in Dubai shortly after she replaced reigning Olympic champion Carolina Marin as the world number one Women's singles shuttler.
Tai will face stiff competition from the likes of Marin, defending champion Ratchanok Intanon, Rio silver medallist PV Sindhu, reigning Malaysia Masters champion Saina Nehwal, Korea's Sung Ji Hyun and Japanese stars Nozomi Okuhara and Akane Yamaguchi in a star-studded singles draw.
However, the two-time finalist (2010 and 2015) is confident she will be able to compete with a clear mindset and eye her maiden title in the Lion City. The Taiwanese star reveals that the pressure of being world number one will not bog her down but only motivate to be more competitive and produce positive results.
"Everyone will have a chance at the Singapore Open. I want to be able to face the competition with a relaxed mindset," Tai said, as quoted by The Straits Times.
"It [world number one status] does not feel much different. In fact, it just means the challenge is greater. What I am really after, beyond maintaining this ranking, is the ability to stay competitive in tournaments."
Apart from the said Women's singles superstars, Singapore will also witness Olympic Men's singles champion Chen Long battling with the likes of defending champion Sony Dwi Kuncoro of Indonesia.
Reigning Women's doubles Olympic champions Ayaka Takahashi and Misaki Matsutomo, who played a big part in leading Japan to its maiden Asia Mixed Team Championships earlier this month in Ho Chi Minh City, are also gearing up to give it their best in Singapore. Notably, the champion duo pulled out of last year's final due to injury.
"I believe that this hastened my recovery process and allowed us to clinch the gold medal at the Rio Olympics. We would like to win our first Singapore Open title this year, but we know that it is not an easy feat," Matsutomo said.