Sung Ji Hyun tamed the world championship and Olympic silver-medallist P.V. Sindhu 11-15, 15-13, 15-14 much against the prayers of the adoring crowd to put Delhi Dashers 2-1 ahead against Chennai Smashers in the Vodafone Premier Badminton League at the Babu Banarasi Das Stadium here on Wednesday evening.
To her credit, Sindhu was at her fighting best, especially in the climax when she survived three match points from 11-14, but put a hesitant shot long much to the disappointment of the fans. The defeat apart Sindhu played close to her best, uncorking all the weapons at her disposal, even though she was not sharp at times.
It was an anticlimactic finish as Gabrielle Adcock, playing the trump match for Chennai Smashers in the mixed doubles in partnership with husband Chris Adcock, twisted her ankle early in the first game, and retired against Ashwini Ponnappa and Vladimir Ivanov.
It meant a negative point, and Delhi Dashers prevailed 3-0, an unexpected finish after a slow start and slow recovery.
There was no hint of the drama, as at the start, it was spectacular play by Sindhu as she wrested the initiative with a string of top quality shots in taking the first game.
However, the errors crept into her game, and a service fault by Sindhu set up gamepoints for her opponent, and an unfavourable net chord saw Sindhu drop the second game. This was to prove costly later.
It was extended entertainment for the adoring fans, as Sindhu was a lot more purposeful right from the start of the decider, to possibly keep a cushion so that the odd error would not upset her. Sindhu brought a few weapons out, including the one down the line with telling effect.
It did help, as Sung Ji Hyun caught up, which compelled the crowd to shout " Bharat mata ki jai ", and trigger the patriotic juice in the Indian star. The fairy tale finish happened only for the Korean this time.
Earlier, Chennai had got off to a superb start, outgunning the Russian dynamites Ivan Sozonov and Vladimir Ivanov, who played as the trump, through Sumeeth Reddy and Lee Yang in straight games.
The Delhi team led 10-6 before losing its way in the first game, trailed 4-9 in the second before slipping further to defeat. With Sumeeth Reddy hammering the winners with panache, despite a heavily taped right knee, and Lee Yang providing the winning touch, it was no surprise that the Chennai team could execute a difficult task with ease.
The negative point for losing the trump match did not weigh the Delhi team which had gathered five points in last match to join the leaders on eight points at that stage, and it won the next two men’s singles matches, first to nullify the disadvantage and then coming on par.
Interestingly, Delhi won both those matches in straight games through Wing Ki Wong Vincent and Tian Houwei, against Brice Leverdez and Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk respectively.
Thailand's Tannongsak led 14-12 in the first game against Tian Houwei before he lost the next three points and the game, thanks to two winners from the Delhi player.
Into the second game, it was going even, before Tian Houwei stepped it up from 10-10 winning the next five points and setting up the stage for the match of the evening from the spectators point of view — Olympic silver medallist P.V. Sindhu versus Sung Ji Hyun.
After three rubbers, the teams were tied 1-1. The onus was on Sindhu, and she missed it.
With three points, Delhi reached 11 while Chennai stayed on seven.