Sindhu suffers final heartbreak

The Indian shuttler suffered a straight-game defeat against Olympic champion Li Xuerui of China in the final of the Denmark Open Super Series Premier badminton event.

P.V. Sindhu was playing in her maiden Super Series final.   -  REUTERS

P V Sindhu’s dream run at the Denmark Open ended in agony as the Indian shuttler suffered a straight-game defeat against Olympic champion Li Xuerui of China in the final of the USD 650,000 Super Series Premier badminton event, here today.

Playing her maiden Super Series final, the two-time bronze medallist at the World Championship Sindhu could not break the stranglehold of Li, who played a compact game and rode on her repertoire of strokes to notch up a 21—19 21—12 win in the summit clash which lasted 47 minutes.

In the opening game, Li opened up a slender 3—0 lead early on but Sindhu soon wrested control at 8—6 and then ended the break with a 11—10 lead. After the breather, Sindhu stepped on the gas and zoomed to a massive 16—10 lead.

However, Li is not the one to take it lying low and she soon changed gears. The Chinese played some delectable drops to bamboozle Sindhu and narrow the gap to 13—16. But a down the line smash from Sindhu helped her gather another point.

The Indian lost a couple of points at the nets to allow Li claw back to 16—17.

Li mixed her shots well and varied the pace to deceive Sindhu and draw parity at 17—17. An outstretched Sindhu failed to connect next as Li grabbed the lead. Sindhu then upped the tempo and gave an aggressive charge to pocket the next point.

Li then engaged in a flat game and Sindhu failed to connect. Her shot got buried at the nets and the Chinese gained a two-point lead to be at 20—18. An accurate down the line return helped Sindhu save one but she erred in judging the shuttle next to allow Li walk away with the first game that lasted 26 minutes.

In the second game, Li again moved to a 3—1 lead after Sindhu lost her second video referral. Errors seemed to creep in her game as her smashes were going wide and long, allowing Li to surge ahead 6—1 in a jiffy.

A poorly executed net shot and failure to connect a return at the forecourt by Li helped Sindhu earn a couple of points but Li continued to ride on the errors committed by the Indian.

The Chinese played some sharp angled shots to which Sindhu had no answer. In fact, Sindhu’s regular returns also started going wide as Li moved into the interval with a 11—4.

The drift in the hall also bothered Sindhu as she could not guage the length of the shots even as Li rode on some spectacular shots to move to 13—4. With her armoury of shots, Li left Sindhu wrong-footed and sometimes completely clueless to soon move to 15—7.

Sindhu threw herself at the court, stretching at the back and fore court but Li was simply outstanding as she led 19—12 with a cross court slice, out of the reach of the Indian.

Li reached the match point after Sindhu hit long once again and she won her first title of the injury-ridden season without much ado with another shot which the Indian let go.

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