Malaysia Masters 2020, Day 4 roundup: PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal knocked out, Indian challenge comes to an end
India's PV Sindhu bowed out of the Super 500 tournament after she lost 16-21 16-21 in her quarterfinal match against current World No.2 Tai Tzu Ying, and the Rio Olympics silver medallist faltered against the Chinese Taipei ace yet again as Tai Tzu Ying took a 12-5 lead in the head-to-head results.
Meanwhile, India's campaign at the tournament in Kuala Lumpur came to an end after Saina Nehwal lost her quarterfinal match as well. The ace Indian shuttler was no match for Carolina Marin. The Spaniard handed Saina a straight-set 8-21 7-21 defeat to take a slender 7-6 lead in their head-to-head results.
PV Sindhu's campaign roundup
Earlier, reigning World Champion PV Sindhu faced Russia's Evgeniya Kosetskaya in her Round 1 match of Malaysia Masters 2020. The 6th seeded Indian made short work of the World No.27 Russian and handed her a straight-set defeat in 35 minutes.
Sindhu steamrolled past her second-round opponent Aya Ohori as well. The 24-year-old took just 34 minutes to defeat her Japanese opponent 21-10, 21-15.
With this victory, Sindhu set up her quarterfinal match with top seed Tai Tzu Ying. With both shuttlers keen to procure some momentum ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, fans expected a tight affair, despite a stern test ahead for Sindhu. The Chinese Taipei shuttler also held a much better head to head record against Sindhu going into the match.
Nevertheless, the two share a sizzling rivalry and the quarterfinals at Malaysia Masters 2020 was exciting in parts.
Both the shuttlers started well and at one stage the score was tied at 11-11 in the first game. Sindhu matched Tai Tzu's brilliant strokeplay and finesse on the court. The Indian has always struggled against her nemesis but she played the first game with supreme confidence.
The first game was an intense battle with both the shuttlers taking the lead simultaneously. They had to toil hard to win each and every point. Tai Tzu's perseverance helped her lead 19-15 in the first game. Sindhu tried her level best to claw her way back but eventually lost the first game 16-21.
Tai started where she left off in the first game and was quick to take a 7-2 lead in the second game. Beautifully timed strokes helped the former World No.1 extend her lead to 13-4 over the Hyderabadi shuttler. Sindhu was in a tough situation psychologically and had to get something going. Sindhu's incredible anticipation helped her win a few good rallies but the score still stood at 14-8, in favour of Tai.
Sindhu won a few quick points on the trot and gave the top seed a momentary scare by saving five match points but it was now a matter of making the scoreline a little more respectable. Eventually, Tai Tzu sealed the second game 21-16 and with that, claimed a spot in the semifinals.
After the 16-21 16-21 defeat, Sindhu will now look to prepare for the Indonesia Open which begins on 14th January.
Carolina Marin's dominant outing ends Saina Nehwal's run
Saina Nehwal's performance was commendable at the Super 500 tournament in Kuala Lumpur ahead of her clash against Marin. The London Olympics bronze medallist eased past Belgium's Lianne Tan in the opening round clash but was handed a tough draw in the second round as she faced 8th seed An Se Young of South Korea. 17-year-old An Se Young was a tough challenge for Saina, who had been struggling with injuries and early exits in the past season.
Shrugging off her critics, Saina put up a scintillating performance against the rising Korean shuttler. Young had also got the better of the ace Indian shuttler in the 2019 French Open and was brimming with confidence after five title wins in 2019.
Still, Nehwal defeated Young 25-23 21-12 in a hard-fought 39-minute encounter. As a result, the Commonwealth Games gold-medallist set up her quarterfinal clash with Spain's southpaw Carolina Marin.
Coming into the encounter, Saina and Marin had a head-to-head record of 6-6. Marin was enjoying a stellar run in the tournament herself and had knocked out Japanese 4th seed Akane Yamaguchi in the first round.
In their last meeting at the 2019 Indonesia Masters final in January 2019, Marin was leading 10-4 but had to retire due to a knee injury and Saina won the title as a result. That injury had kept the reigning Olympic Champion out of action for seven months but she is back in top form now. She even won the Super 1000 China Open in September last year.
And yet, The quarterfinal between Saina and Carolina was a one-sided encounter.
The Spaniard started the first game swiftly and took a 4-1 lead. The Commonwealth Games champion, Saina tried to claw her way back. She gained some confidence after winning a good rally but Carolina still led 11-6 at the mid-game interval.
The southpaw really displayed her hunger and extended her lead to 17-7. There was no coming back for the Indian and the ace Spanish shuttler won the first game 8-21 in just a short period of time.
After encouraging words from coach Kashyap, Saina tried to start the second game positively. However, Marin was dominating and raced to a 6-2 lead.
World No.11 Saina picked a few good points to reduce the gap but the Spaniard ensured she keeps scoring points regularly by using her deception to great effect. Marin led 11-6 at the mid-game interval.
Carolina seemed in total control and again raced to a 17-7 lead after the break. The Olympic Champion put up a dominating performance and won the 2nd game 21-7 to wrap up the match in just 29 minutes.
Many Indians were in contention in the Super 500 Tournament but only PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal managed to reach the quarterfinals in the Women's Singles category.
In the men's category - Parupalli Kashyap, Sai Praneeth, and Kidambi Srikanth had bowed out in Round 1 itself. Meanwhile, Sameer Verma and HS Prannoy could not progress past round 2.
Pranaav Jerry Chopra and Sikki Reddy were the only Indian Mixed doubles pair in contention but they too made a first-round exit.
There were high hopes from the rising men's doubles pair Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty. However, the lower-ranked Malaysian pair of Ong Yew Sin and Teo Ee Yi knocked out the World No.12 Indian duo in the first round itself.
With Sindhu and Saina's twin defeats, the Indian challenge at the Malaysia Masters 2020 came to an end.