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Badminton Asia Championships 2019: Saina, Sindhu and Sameer crash out

Sohinee Basu
335   //    26 Apr 2019, 20:07 IST

PV Sindhu, along with Verma and Nehwal fall in the quarters of the Badminton Asia Championships
PV Sindhu, along with Verma and Nehwal fall in the quarters of the Badminton Asia Championships

The quarter-finals day of the 39th edition of the ongoing Badminton Asia Championships brought with it unhappy tidings for the Indians. The medal dreams which were nursed by the remaining trio of Sameer Verma, PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal in the draw were rudely snubbed out as they were dealt with shattering defeats in each of their quarter-final clashes and had to accept the loss and exit the tournament.

Indeed, the opponents that each of them were pitched against were not easy to handle. It was a well-known fact that Sameer Verma and Saina Nehwal, especially, would have to bring their A game to the court to stand a chance to outclass their top-order opponents. In the first match of the day, Sameer Verma went up against World Number 2, Shi Yuqi inside the battlegrounds prepared by the Wuhan Sports Center.

However, China's Shi Yuqi did not allow Verma any scope to get the better of him and ensured the 15th ranked player from India had a tough time on the court. In a matter of 36 minutes, Shi Yuqi showed Verma the door in 21-10, 21-12, after he put up a futile fight.

The next disappointment soon arrived when Saina Nehwal went up against Japan's Akane Yamaguchi, the World Number 4. Nehwal, who had clashed against her last in the 2018 Hong Kong Open and suffered a crushing defeat in three games, saw history repeating itself in the process when Yamaguchi stifled Nehwal's persistent fight to topple her.

Coming into the match with a 7-2 head-to-head advantage, Yamaguchi cornered the seventh seeded Nehwal into 69 minutes of relentless fight and intense badminton action. The first game was swiftly taken by Yamaguchi but the second game saw Nehwal having a moment of surge as she clawed back into the match momentarily to take it to a deciding third game. However, Nehwal could not be at par with Yamaguchi and succumbed to the Japanese ace player's ruthless style of play. After 1 hour 9 minutes, Yamaguchi got the better of Nehwal in 21-13, 21-23, 21-16.

Even if these two losses were remotely expected, Sindhu's defeat was not. PV Sindhu was handed with the easiest of opponents out of the three Indian shuttlers playing in the quarters. The fourth seeded girl from Hyderabad made a poor show on the courts today when she failed to overthrow the 17th ranked Yanyan Cai of China.

What is more humiliating is the fashion in which Sindhu lost. As has been a recent trend with her, Sindhu keeps losing her power of concentration and motivation in the final stages of a tournament. In a repeat story of the Malaysia Open and the Singapore Open, Sindhu failed to overpower her Chinese opponent.

In a matter of 31 minutes, all was over for Sindhu and for India. The first game had her still showing some potential to bounce back into the match, however the second game saw Sindhu only managing to offer 9 points on the board to her name. Sure enough, the 17th ranked Yanyan Cai took advantage of a fazed Sindhu and single-handedly ended her challenge with a 21-19, 21-9 win.

The quarter final finish by the trio of Saina, Sameer and Sindhu has indeed been a disappointing spectacle given that they had been in good form in their pre-quarters as they notched perfect straight-game wins. However, we hope that the shuttlers learn from their mistakes today and possibly, enter the next tournament with a more improved and invincible form and get closer to clinching the elusive medals.