Sai Praneeth's hopes of repeating his stunning World Championships win over the ninth-ranked Anthony Sinisuka Ginting were dashed as the World No. 15 crashed out of the China Open 2019 in Changzhou on Friday. The 21-16, 6-21, 16-21 quarter-final loss also marked the end of the Indian campaign at the season's final Super 1000 event.
Less than a month ago, Sai had shocked the higher-ranked Ginting 21-19, 21-13 on his way to his maiden World Championships medal that also ended India's 36-year medal drought in men's singles. On Friday, the Indian looked to have begun his sixth face-off with the Indonesian with the same conviction.
Having built a strong 11-3 lead at the time of the mid-game interval, Sai made no mistake in pocketing the opener 21-16. However, he failed to stop the comeback of the Indonesian, who looked more determined than ever. With a barrage of attacking shots, Ginting sailed to an 11-5 advantage and kept adding points to his tally to move up 18-6 before levelling things up.
Sai would go on to rue his missed chances in the decider for he had the upper hand in the first half of it, having led 11-7. It was a fantastic show of resilience from Ginting thereafter, as he refused to lose to the Indian for the second time in a month.
He snatched the momentum from Sai and never relinquished it to secure the win in 55 minutes.
Sai was the only Indian remaining in this tournament following the departure of PV Sindhu and Parupalli Kashyap on Thursday. After the historic performance of Indian shuttlers at the World Championships last month, a lot was expected from them in this prestigious event. However, the early exit of the top Indians has left a lot to be desired.
For Sindhu, especially, the China Open was a litmus test after her crowning glory in Basel. A second-round loss to World No. 15 Pornpawee Chochuwong was definitely not something her ardent fans would have envisaged.
Sindhu will, however, get a golden opportunity to redeem her mistakes when the badminton world's creme de la creme land in Incheon next week for the Super 500 Korea Open.