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Badminton

PV Sindhu 'disappointed' with Malaysia Masters loss, but 'happy' to make final

PV Sindhu, on Sunday, suffered a heartbreaking defeat to Wang Zhi Yi, who pulled off one of the biggest upsets of recent times by winning 18 points in the third game after Sindhu led 11-3.

PV Sindhu disappointed with Malaysia Masters loss, but happy to make final
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PV Sindhu will be chasing her third successive medal at the 2024 Paris Olympics. (Photo Credit: BWF)

By

Sudipta Biswas

Updated: 26 May 2024 12:30 PM GMT

PV Sindhu is upset that she could not win the Malaysia Masters Super 500 women's singles title, her first final on the BWF World Tour since April last year when she lost to Putri Kusuma Wardani at Madrid Spain Masters.

The Indian shuttler suffered a heartbreaking defeat (21-16, 5-21, 16-21) to China's Wang Zhi Yi at Kuala Lumpur's Axiata Arena on Sunday despite putting up a brave fight in a 79-minute battle. Wang pulled off a massive upset victory after trailing for most of the deciding third game.

"It is sad that I did not get the result that I expected. I think I should have pulled it off, maintaining the lead (in the third game), but there were really good rallies and she also came back. And overall I can say that it is, it has been a very good match," Sindhu told BWF after the final.

Sindhu, despite playing three successive three-game matches en route to the final compared to one by Wang, started the final on a dominating note and won the first game 21-16. There were moments of brilliance from Sindhu, who won net battles and rallies with bustling smashes.

As they changed the ends, Sindhu, playing against the drift, looked flabbergasted under Wang's onslaught though. The Chinese player - suddenly looking like an improved player with inputs coming in regularly from her coach Luo Yigang sitting on the sidelines - won the second game 21-5, with Sindhu's smashes going wide and unable to execute the tactics that worked for her in the first game.

Sindhu eventually capitulated to her slew of errors as Wang forced a decider.

Talking about her loss in the second game, the former world champion said, "Whoever played on that side of the court was not really that comfortable is what I felt. I gave her a huge lead, at some point like 16-4, 17-4. It was a really long gap to even cover, and then I continuously made mistakes, It was a bit hard to control. Third game I was on point, I was doing well. Maybe I should have, you know... the 13-8 lead and 11-3 lead, I should have maintained that."

They change ends, Sindhu succumbs to errors

Sindhu, moving well, taking her height advantage by launching booming smashes and reaching well to Wang's angled returns, retorted in the decider. She went 11-3 up against Wang at the third-game interval. Sindhu extended her lead to 13-3 and the title looked in sight.

But when things were looking unpropitious for Wang, the winner of this year's Badminton Asia Championships, she shocked everyone as the two players changed their ends.

Showing her sheer mental strength, the Chinese youngster held her nerves and engaged Sindhu, who suddenly looked out of sorts, in sapping rallies - one after another - that left world no. 15 exhausted.

Sindhu found it hard to retrieve Wang's wide drives and decelerated strokes at the net. She looked worn out after the third game interval and Wang was on a point run, winning points from sapping rallies. She also fetched winners with her crisscrossing game, leaving Sindhu wanting on the other side of her court.

Wang won the next five points, as she prolonged her rallies and brought winners with deft placements. However, Sindhu was still in the game. But more errors from her meant Wang drew level at 13-13 before marching ahead to claim a 14-13 edge.

It shifted the momentum in her favour. At times, Sindhu seemed to be playing on the command of Wang as she looked out of ideas and struggled to take initiative.

From there onwards, Sindhu could win only two points - both from Wang's wide and long returns. Wang broke away to the championship point at 20-16, leaving the Indian exhausted with her clever plays and defensive brilliance.

Wang would eventually prevail 16-21 in the decider to win her third title of the year (she won Indonesia Masters earlier this year), as Sindhu committed several mistakes under pressure, going long and wide. Wang's crisscrossing game also proved too much for Sindhu at the fag end of the match.

'I could have won that'

The defeat marked Sindhu's second straight loss to Wang. Last year, at the Arctic Open semifinal, Sindhu lost against the Chinese world no. 7, also in three games.

The 28-year-old remained upset with the result, but she said her advancement to the final, in a week that saw her play four three-game contests, including one against Sim Yu-jin, world no. 6 and top seed Han Yue of China and Busanan Ongbamrungphan, will boost her confidence.

"It was a bit disappointing, but a lot of positives to take from this match and the whole tournament as well. I am happy that at least I came to the final. I played well, and these matches will definitely give me a lot of confidence,” said Sindhu, adding, "But, you know, I could have won that, it was just not one of those days."

"Definitely, after a long time, coming to the finals is a positive thing. It gives me a lot of confidence," she elaborated.

Asked how she plans to regroup after this defeat, Sindhu said, "Of course, I go back and see what improvements to be made and discuss with my coach. And of course prepare for Singapore, it is not just over with this tournament. So it is important to get back and maybe just a day off and then be prepared for the next tournament. It is important that you keep pumping up, you keep pushing yourself, you keep encouraging yourself in these low times that is what I can do now at the moment....It is also important to just cheer myself up and, just focus and relax and prepare for the next tournament."

Sindhu will look to correct the anomaly when she competes at the Singapore Open Super 750 next week. It was in Singapore, in July 2022, that Sindhu won her last BWF World Tour title, beating Wang Zhi Yi.

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