Star Indian shuttlers P V Sindhu and Kidambi Srikanth suffered close defeats in their respective group ‘B’ openers at the USD 1.5 million HSBC BWF World Tour Finals on Wednesday.
A week after a demoralising defeat at the Toyota Thailand Open quarterfinals, World champion Sindhu produced a much-improved performance but still lost to world number one Tai Tzu Ying of Taiwan 21-19 12-21 17-21
Former world number one Srikanth too squandered an opening game advantage, losing 21-15 16-21 18-21 to world number three Anders Antonsen of Denmark in a gruelling 77-minute contest.
Olympic silver medallist Sindhu, who had won the prestigious title in 2018, will next play home favourites Ratchanok Intanon, who had handed her a humiliating defeat last week, while Srikanth, ranked 14th, will face fourth seed Wang Tzu Wei of Chinese Taipei on Thursday.
In the women’s singles, the opening game was a close fight as Sindhu and Tzu Ying engaged in an enticing battle.Tzu Ying led 5-3 early on before grabbing a 11-8 advantage at the interval as Sindhu lost a few points on the net.
After the break, Tzu Ying jumped to a 14-10 lead with Sindhu making an error in her judgement at backline and also the Taiwanese producing a backhand cross court return.
Sindhu drew parity at 16-16 with a run of points, highlighted by a crisp cross court slice and a backhand return.
Tzu Ying again moved ahead but two precise smashes helped the Indian make it 19-19 as she grabbed the game point with another precise return that kissed the backline.
Sindhu then played a cross court return at the net which her opponent couldn’t reach, gaining the upper hand in the match.
Tzu Ying zoomed to a 6-0 lead in the second game. Sindhu managed to reduce the deficit to 3-7 before the Taiwanese unleased a couple of drops and a smash to make it 9-4.
Two unforced errors from Sindhu handed an 11-4 advantage to her rival at the break. Tzu Ying continued to dominate to move to 19-9 before winning the second game with a cross court return.
In the decider, Tzu Ying again led 6-3 but she stumbled to defensive errors as Sindhu levelled the score with a smash.