China Open: Sindhu suffers shock defeat to Chinese teenager

P. V. Sindhu’s China Open title defence fell apart as she lost 11-21, 10-21 to 19-year-old Gao Fangjie of China in Friday's quarterfinal.

P. V. Sindhu is scheduled to play at the Hong Kong Open next week, where she had reached the finals in the previous edition and has a lot of points to defend.   -  AFP

P. V. Sindhu’s title defence lay in tatters after suffering a shock straight-game loss to hitherto unknown Chinese Gao Fangjie in the quarterfinals of the China Super Series Premier on Friday. Sindhu seemed off-colour during her 38-minute duel with the 19-year-old Fangjie, who upstaged her fancied World No. 2 rival 21-11, 21-10 in a lop-sided contest.

Sindhu’s loss drew curtains on India’s campaign at the China Open, following the ouster of Saina Nehwal and H. S. Prannoy in the prequarterfinals on Thursday.

READ: Saina, Prannoy crash out of China Open

The 22-year-old from Hyderabad, who has been playing continuously for the last three weeks, participating in the Denmark Open, French Open and the National Championship in Nagpur, found the going tough. She seemed exhausted and struggled to anticipate her opponent’s moves even as Fangjie kept varying the length of the shots and engaged in long rallies to dominate the proceedings.

In the first game, Sindhu opened up a 2-0 lead before Fangjie showed her skills and turned the tables at 4 -3. Though Sindhu played a few smart drops and smashes to gather points, Fangjie entered the break with a 11-9 lead. After the mid-game interval, the Chinese teen just raced away, gathering 10 of the next 12 points to pocket the opening game.

The second game too was one-way traffic as Sindhu found it hard to read Fangjie’s deceptive strokes. The Indian’s movements were also not as smooth and that resulted in Fangjie leaping to a 11-6 lead at the interval.

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Sindhu also committed too many unforced errors and continued to lag behind after the break, even as the Chinese moved to a massive 20-9 match point. The Indian saved one but Fangjie sealed it in the next opportunity.

Sindhu is scheduled to play at the Hong Kong Open next week, where she had reached the finals in the previous edition and has a lot of points to defend.

Results:

Quarterfinals

Men

Viktor Axelsen (DEN x1) bt Chou Tien-chen (TPE x5) 21-17, 21-14;

Angus Ng Ka-long (HKG) bt Lee Chong Wei (MAS x7) 21-12, 15-21, 21-19;

Son Wan-Ho (KOR x2) bt Lee Cheuk-yiu (HKG) 21-14, 12-21, 21-18;

Chen Long (CHN x6) bt Shi Yuqi (CHN x4) 21-13, 16-21, 21-14;

Women

Carolina Marin (ESP x4) bt He Bingjiao (CHN x7 21-15, 22-24, 22-20;

Ratchanok Intanon (THA x8) bt Tai Tzu-ying (TPE x1] 10-21, 21-9, 22-20;

Gao Fangjie (CHN) bt P.V. Sindhu (IND x2) 21-11, 21-10;

Akane Yamaguchi (JPN x5) bt Ji Shuting (CHN) 21-11, 21-19.