PV Sindhu caused a major upset at the BWF World Tour Finals 2018 in Guangzhou, China on Thursday as she beat the World No. 1, Tai Tzu Ying. The 14-21, 21-16, 21-18 win that the Indian posted over the Chinese Taipei ace in 61 minutes helped snap her six-match losing streak to the top-ranked women’s singles shuttler.
This is Sindhu’s first win over Tai since the Rio Olympics and it improved her head-to-head record to 4-10 against her wily opponent.
With this, she has now recorded wins over both the World No. 1 and the World No. 2 Akane Yamaguchi in the first couple of days of the tournament. This also strengthens her chances of making it through to the semi-finals from Group A.
Tai was reported to have had an injury niggle even before the match but it didn’t seem to bother her in the early parts of their encounter on Thursday. With her usual finesse and sharp anticipation powers, Tai went up to 6-2.
Sindhu stayed away from using her smashes in the first game and relied mostly on her dropshots and soft touches to interrupt Tai’s rhythm. Even though she did earn success at times, she could not sustain that for a long time due to her unforced errors.
That helped Tai further as she inched ahead 15-11, which she extended to 18-12, making it a six-point gap between them. With the Indian casually hitting a shot wide on game point, Tai wrapped up the opener 21-14.
But soon the complexion of the match changed. Tai failed to cope with the change of ends. Looking slower than usual, she started making mistakes, giving away cheap points to her opponent. The movement did not look as silky smooth as it was in the first game, further validating the fact that she really wasn’t at 100% fitness.
That absolutely emboldened Sindhu who was relentlessly aggressive and kept smashing her way through the points. From 6-3, she went up 10-4, showing her array of down-the-line smashes.
Tai closed the gap to two points after the break at 10-12, but her lack of sharpness and her gingerly approach weren’t helping her cause at all. Sindhu soon started smartly exploiting Tai’s poor movement and grabbed the second game 21-16 after Tai saved a couple of game points.
In the third game, it seemed that Tai's usual swagger and confidence had returned. From 3-0 up, she built a comfortable lead of 11-6 at the time of the mid-game interval.
But Sindhu’s determination, poise and quick thinking, coupled with Tai’s unforced errors paved the way for the Indian to get back in contention. The India No. 1 started punctuating her soft touches with a few round-the-head crosscourt shots, surprising the World No. 1.
As Tai seemed to be feeling the heat, the World No. 6 levelled at 13-13 and then straightaway leaped into the lead. She separated herself from her ever-dangerous opponent by five points and raced ahead 18-13.
As Tai slipped near the net to retrieve a shot and sent the shuttle wide, Sindhu earned much-coveted five match points. The World No. 1 still didn’t give up and saved three of them before sending the shuttle wide one last time as Sindhu broke into a smile, having demolished the Tai wall after a long time.
Verma wins as well
Earlier in the day, BWF World Tour Finals debutant Sameer Verma registered his first win of the tournament to stay in the hunt for a semi-final berth. He beat World No. 10 Tommy Sugiarto 21-16, 21-7 in 39 minutes.
Sameer had lost his first match to World No. 1 Kento Momota on Day 1 of the season-ender. Another win on Friday could see him in the semi-finals.Published 13 Dec 2018, 19:25 IST