The World Champion bowed after a straight-games loss to the teenager in the second round.
Up against a 17-year-old from South Korea, India’s reigning BWF World Champion PV Sindhu was expected to romp home to a win in her second-round tie at the ongoing 2019 Denmark Open Super 750 event.
But what transpired at the Odense Sportspark on Thursday had many in shock as youngster An Se Young pulled off a fine win to beat the world champion 21-14, 21-17 and move into the quarterfinals of the competition. Se Young will now take on Olympic champion Carolina Marin of Spain next on Friday.
Sindhu looked uncomfortable on the court from the outset as her young opponent got off to a bright start and frazzled the Indian with her quick returns. With the faster conditions prevalent inside the stadium aiding her game, the South Korean raced to a 6-1 lead in no time and was soon sitting comfortably at 11-7 as the players headed for the mid-game breather.
With a draft blowing across the court, Sindhu struggled to keep the shuttle in play for long while Se Young banked on her retrieving skills to score points aplenty and take the opening game 21-14.
The second game saw Sindhu change her strategy as she countered her opponent’s fast-paced approach with long rallies. The 2016 Rio Olympics silver medallist engaged in rallies that lasted for over 25 shots on a consistent basis, exposing some of Se Young’s inexperience and helping Sindhu win a few precious points at the start.
With an 8-4 lead in her favour, many would have hoped for Sindhu to put the game to bed and push the tie into a decider. But the South Korean teenager seemed to have a different plan, as she eked out five points on the bounce to surge ahead and keep the pressure firmly on Sindhu as the game progressed.
Soon, it was a matter of who would blink first as the shuttlers were comfortable playing long rallies while waiting for the other to commit an error. And once again, it was Sindhu who found it difficult to keep the shuttle in play as she handed the tie to her young opponent after 40 minutes of match time.
India’s poor run wasn’t restricted to Sindhu alone as Sameer Varma, B Sai Praneeth and the men’s doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty too bowed out of the Denmark Open after their second-round losses.
Verma was no match for the 2016 Rio Olympics gold medallist Chen Long of China losing his tie 12-21, 10-21 and Sai Praneeth, who beat the legendary Lin Dan in the previous round, lost out to the top seed, Japan’s Kento Momota 6-21, 14-21.
Rankireddy and Shetty too failed to find their mojo as they went down to the World No. 7 pair of Han Cheng Kai and Zhou Hao Dong 16-21, 15-21.