Reigning world champion PV Sindhu succumbed to a shock defeat in her first-round match against Chinese Taipei’s Pai Yu Po in the Fuzhou China Open 2019, losing 21-13, 18-21, 21-19 on Tuesday.
Pai raced to a 3-0 lead in the first game but Sindhu fought back to level the scores at 4-4. The Taiwanese though, scored six of the next seven points, building a substantial lead which left Sindhu playing catch-up for the remainder of the game.
Pai struggled to put away the Indian on game point, as Sindhu fought back and picked up five straight points. However, the 28-year-old managed to fend her off eventually to win the first game 21-13. Much like the first, the second game was evenly contested at the start and the score was poised at 8-8. Sindhu then upped the ante and scored four unanswered points to take control of the game, and despite Pai’s best attempts to cut the deficit, Sindhu held on to win 21-18.
With the scores tied at 2-2 in the third game, Pai embarked on a 9-1 run that gave her an 11-3 lead. However, Sindhu fired back with eight unanswered points to level the contest. The match hung in the balance with the scores tied at 19-19 and it was the Taiwanese who picked up the final two points to win the match to send Sindhu packing out of the tournament.
It’s been a challenging few months for Sindhu, who has made it to the quarterfinals just once in her last five tournament appearances.
She slumped to a second-round defeat in the Victor China Open - her first competition post the World Championships triumph - and suffered early eliminations in the Korea Open as well as the Denmark Open. She performed admirably at the French Open, getting to the quarterfinals but was downed by top-ranked Tai Tzu-Ying.
A tough day
Meanwhile, Ashwini Ponnappa won her mixed doubles contest alongside Satwiksairaj Rankireddy but she and her partner N. Sikki Reddy were beaten in their women’s doubles match on the opening day of the tournament.
Ponnappa and Rankireddy recorded a 21-19, 21-19 victory over Canadian duo Joshua Hulburt-Yu and Josephine Wu.
H.S. Prannoy went down 21-17, 21-18 in a hard-fought clash against Denmark’s Rasmus Gemke, while the women’s doubles duo of Ponnappa and N. Sikki Reddy were ousted by China’s Li Wen Mei and Zheng Yu in straight games.
Duo Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty will battle America’s Phillip Chew and Ryan Chew in the first round of the men’s doubles event later in the day.