The Japanese too earned a shot at her first world title, beating Zhang Yi Man in straight games.
Tai was her majestic best in the opening game but a series of errors in the second threatened to derail her chances. The world No.1 was well in position on most of her shots but her tendency to go for the tightest of margins cost her, and He Bing Jiao stayed in the hunt.
Nevertheless, Tai was not flustered, and exerted her dominance once again in the decider, with a streak of seven points putting her well clear. Kept on tenterhooks with the variety of shots coming from the other end, He Bing Jiao’s consistency deserted her, and Tai had wrapped her final place, 21-17 13-21 21-14, in just under an hour.
“I felt very good. In the second game the shuttle didn’t go where I wanted so I felt like I wasted the opportunity. I was very patient and stable in the opening game, although the rallies were long, and I had to fight to keep them going.
“I told myself not to make mistakes and I had to be prepared for her speed. I will just do my best tomorrow. I just have to trust myself.”
Zhang Yi Man gave a good account of herself in the second semifinal, but Yamaguchi’s greater experience helped her avoid a third game, as she snatched victory 21-19 21-19.
“I’d watched her (Zhang) videos yesterday but today I felt hard to find my rhythm,” said Yamaguchi. “It was close in the second game and there was the possibility of a third but I wanted to avoid that, so I pushed harder at the end of the second game.
“Tai and I have played many times, so there’s no special preparation for tomorrow. We haven’t played each other recently. She’s a technical and physical player, she’s good in everything. I just have to play my game tomorrow.”