Taiwan’s Pai Hsiao-ma entered the first final of a Grand Prix Gold badminton tournament of her career on Friday by defeating Singapore’s Zhang Beiwin at the US Badminton Open.
Pai, who also came out on top in a previous meeting with Zhang in 2009, beat the Chinese-born Singaporean 21-16, 21-16 in the semi-final of the championships held in Orange County, California.
In a post-game interview, the 26-year-old said she felt some pressure in the early stages of the match, leading to several mistakes.
However, she later managed to pace herself and staged a comeback from five points behind during the second set.
Pai’s entry to the final was her best performance to date in a tournament at the Grand Prix Gold level of the Badminton World Federation. Previously, she had only reached the semi-finals in tournaments such as last year’s Taipei Championships.
The victory also means Taiwan has the chance to defend the US Open women’s singles title, won last year by Taiwan’s Tai Tzu-ying.
Pai was to face Kaori Imabeppu of Japan in the final, set to take place yesterday.
As Japanese players are known for their speed on court, Pai said she would have to try to match her opponent’s pace.