Fashion & Confusion — Sindhu faces repeat of umpiring chaos at Badminton Asia Championships
PV Sindhu's quarters and semi-finals outing at the Badminton Asia C'Ships saw her turn up both the fashion and umpiring confusion quotient with highly dramatic matches against opponents from Tokyo Olympics.
PV Sindhu came dangerously close to entering the finals of the Badminton Asia Championships where she squared off against World Champion Akane Yamaguchi in an unusually dramatic semi-final clash.
Locked in a tight three-setter that saw both players bringing their A-game, Sindhu missed out marginally and lost, 21-13, 19-21, 16-21 in a 66-minutes heated affair.
Aside from turning heads with her raging form, Sindhu's loud, emphatic screams were quick to punctuate both her quarterfinal and semifinal encounters against seasoned opponents - He Bing Jiao and Akane Yamaguchi. But the one other thing that caught the eye was Sindhu's pop-coloured outfits and a perfectly colour-coordinated smartwatch to go with them.
If she wore a bright yellow jersey reminiscent of her Rio Olympics final in the quarters against He Bing Jiao, her opponent from the Tokyo Olympics bronze match, Sindhu chose a flaming pink against Yamaguchi in the semi-finals of the Badminton Asia Championships and in both cases, she matched her watch bands with the ditto colours of the jersey.
In retrospect, there are several threads of commonality between the two matches that transpired in Manila, Philippines and both were packed with drama and nail-biting moments galore and of course, some strange umpiring confusion too.
The Tokyo connect
For one, the Badminton Asia Championships made for a couple of Tokyo rematches to take place. The quarterfinals saw Sindhu lock horns with China's He Bing Jiao, who was the one also standing between her and a second Olympic medal at the Games last year.
On that occasion, Sindhu had the last laugh and created history, defeating Bing Jiao and winning the bronze. Flash forward the months, in their next meeting, Sindhu ensured that Bing Jiao does not deny her the bronze and went on to secure the victory, 21-9, 13-21, 21-19 and the medal at the Badminton Asia Championships, despite plenty of confusion eroding the game.
At Tokyo, Sindhu had met Akane Yamaguchi in the quarters and at Manila, the Japanese top seed became her opponent in the semi-finals. Yet again, this match also panned out in a dramatic fashion, stretching to a decider again but unfortunately, Sindhu could not replicate the Tokyo outcome against the sprightly Japanese, who turned the narrative in her favour.
The umpiring drama
The other and more glaring thing that raised its head in both the matches was the umpiring drama that took place.
During the decider against Bing Jiao in the quarters, the chair umpire had lost track of scores at one point during the 14-17 stages of the match, creating confusion and commotion on the court. Match officials, coaches and players gathered around the umpire to explain what the correct score should be and play was stopped for more than a couple of minutes.
If one thought that is a one-off, rare instance and can be easily shelved, Sindhu's match against Yamaguchi also featured another run-in with the chair umpire after he took away Sindhu's serve during a crucial point of the second game, with many fans now calling out the umpire for biased judgement.
Having already issued a warning to the World No. 7 shuttler for taking too long to serve a few points prior to that, the umpire suddenly raised his hand and indicated Sindhu to pass her serve to Yamaguchi instead and also salvage a point, which acted as the turning point of the match, visibly ruffling Sindhu, for her second straight match at the Asia Championships.
It remains to be seen if any further investigation would take place into this matter but both incidents displayed another, uncalled for side of badminton to raise its head.