A profligate P V Sindhu faltered in the semifinals of the Thailand Open, going down in straight games to Olympic champion and world number four Chen Yu Fei of China here on Saturday.
Sindhu, a two-time Olympic medallist, lost 17-21 16-21 to third seeded Chen in 43 minutes to end an impressive run in the Super 500 tournament. Sindhu, seeded sixth, enjoyed a 6-4 head-to-head count coming into the match but she was not her usual best and committed too many unforced errors against the Chinese, who played aggressive badminton to come up trumps against the Indian. The 26-year-old from Hyderabad had also lost to Chen the last time the two faced off at the 2019 BWF World Tour Finals.
Sindhu was the first to log points but Chen strengthened her defence and kept the rallies alive with her overall game to push the Indian to commit errors. After an initial 3-3 battle, Chen broke off with a cross court slice on her rival's forehand. Looking for precision, Sindhu fluffed the lines and Chen was spot on with her video referrals as she led 11-7 at the interval in the first game.
Things didn't change much as Chen continued to dominate the rallies with Sindhu finding the net and going wide and long, the Chinese managed to extend her lead to 17-12. Sindhu won a few points with a couple of precise cross court returns on Chen's backhand to make it 15-17 but the Chinese disposed off a short lift from Sindhu next to break the run of play.
The Indian again sent the shuttle long and then to the net to hand five game points to Chen, who squandered two before pocketing the first game with Sindhu again finding the net. The world number 7 Indian produced a better show in the second game, leading 6-3 before making it 10-5. But Chen soon found her bearings as she mixed her shots well to gather three successive points. Sindhu, however, managed to go into the break with a narrow two-point cushion after wining a 25-shot rally.
But the world number 4 soon tightened her game and turned the tables as Sindhu continued her erroneous run, allowing Chen to move to a 15-12 advantage. Sindhu managed to narrow it to 15-17 with a precise return that just kissed the lines but she again went wide with a cross court return. Chen then produced a winner on Sindhu's forehand before sending another one at the forecourt to grab five match points.
The Chinese squandered one with a long shot before sealing the contest with a body smash. Sindhu, who has won two Super 300 titles at the Syed Modi International and Swiss Open and a bronze at Badminton Asia Championships this season, will next compete at the Indonesia Masters Super 500 scheduled to be held in Jakartka from June 7 to 12.