It was so close yet so far for PV Sindhu in the women's singles semi-final of the Badminton Asia Championships in Manila, Philippines, on Saturday. The fourth-seeded shuttler was just a couple of points away from sealing a spot.
However, luck did not favor her as PV Sindhu suffered a heart-breaking defeat against top seed Akane Yamaguchi at the Continental Individual Championships.
Sindhu ended her campaign with a bronze medal after losing 21-13, 19-21, 16-21 in 66 minutes against defending champion Akane Yamaguchi of Japan.
World No. 7 Sindhu had the match in her grip after grabbing the opening game 21-13 and leading by five points in the second game as well. She appeared in her groove and was ahead 13-11 when the turning point of the match happened.
A point penalty for time-wasting for PV Sindhu completely changed the complexion of the match. She was docked a point at the crucial juncture of the match. From that point onwards, it was Yamaguchi who found her rhythm and never let the Indian regroup.
Double Olympic medalist Sindhu seemed distracted and was always trailing in the third and deciding game. She led 13-8 in the head-to-head record against the world No. 2 Japanese before Saturday’s clash. She fought hard but could not pull it off.
Yamaguchi won the decider 21-16 to book her place in the final where she will face Wang Zhi Yi of China on Sunday. The world No. 16 Chinese stunned second seed An Seyoung of Korea 10-21, 21-12, 21-16 in an hour and three minutes. It was Wang’s first win over the young Korean in four meetings.
This is PV Sindhu’s second medal at the continental event. The former world champion had earlier won bronze in the 2014 edition of Gimcheon.
Umpire’s overzealous approach got to Sindhu in the second when she was really on top: Vimal Kumar
Former Indian coach Vimal Kumar admitted that the umpire's overzealous approach certainly affected PV Sindhu’s momentum.
“Umpire’s overzealous approach got to Sindhu in the second when she was really on top. Sindhu was on the right, but that incident distracted Sindhu’s momentum and focus. It’s tough to play in that hall from one side because of the drift,” said Vimal Kumar while talking to Sportskeeda.
The men's final will be played between fourth seed Jonatan Christie of Indonesia and third seed Lee Zii Jia of Malaysia.
Christie edged past fellow Indonesian Chico Aura Dwi Wardoyo 21-9, 18-21, 21-16 in 57 minutes. Whereas Lee Zii Jia ousted China's Weng Hong Yang 21-11, 21-19 in 39 minutes.
4-PV Sindhu lost to 1-Akane Yamaguchi (Japan) 21-13, 19-21, 16-21 (66 minutes).