PV Sindhu fell to old rival Ratchanok Intanon in straight games and Sameer Verma lost to Anders Antonsen. Satwik-Ashwini went through to the Thailand Open semis.
It was an even start as PV Sindhu and Intanon traded points early on, but the Indian badminton player’s trademark smashes were not penetrative enough. It played into Intanon’s hands, with an airtight defence helping her take an 11-7 lead to the break.
PV Sindhu soon drew level but Ratchanok Intanon gathered herself after a sip of water and strung together eight consecutive points with her dipping forehands and delicate drops to win the opening game.
The Thai player’s precision only got better in the second game as PV Sindhu struggled to read the play and committed a few errors to give Ratchanok Intanon a 11-4 lead at the mid-game break.
The fourth-seeded Intanon thrived on her momentum, bringing her deceptive shots to the fore to surge ahead. Intanon then eventually finished off the match with a backhand winner to come out trumps in the battle of the world champions.
“I think I made a lot of unforced errors and gave away easy points. I didn't play my best, it wasn't my day. Intanon is a great player and I was prepared for that. I was responding to all her strokes, but I was making mistakes. If I had won the first game, I think things would have been comparatively different,” Sindhu said after the game.
Meanwhile, Sameer Verma’s giant-killing run came to an end in the quarter-finals as he fell 13-21, 21-19, 20-22 to third-seeded Anders Antonsen of Denmark.
Sameer Verma, who had beaten Lee Zii Jia and Rasmus Gemke in the first two rounds, misjudged his lines in the first game, allowing Antonsen a lot of simple points. The Dane built up his momentum and soon took the lead.
In the second game, Antonsen’s deep, dipping forehands and snappy net shots drew errors from Sameer Verma initially. The Indian hit back soon though, setting his opponent up with deceptive shots and finishing points off with a smash to edge out Antonsen.
Both players fought hard in the decider, but none definitively managed to outdo the other. In the end, it was Anders Antonsen who saved a match point and then strung together two in a row to grind out a semi-final spot.
It was not all bad for Indian badminton as the mixed doubles duo of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Ashwini Ponnappa pulled off a memorable 18-21, 24-22, 22-20 win over Olympic silver medallists Chan Peng Soon and Goh Liu Ying of Malaysia.
It was a tightly contested affair in all three games, but Satwik-Ashwini were slightly erratic in the first game – making a few service errors and sending their shots wide – which allowed their opponents to take a one-game lead.
However, the Indian badminton pair fought hard in the second with Satwik’s powerful backcourt smashes and Ashwini’s reactionary net play bringing them back into the contest as they saved three match points to force a decider.
The Indians continued that strategy in the third game with their opponents slightly hampered as Goh’s movement seemed restricted due to a discomfort in her back.
However, Soon-Goh refused to give up, displaying their defensive abilities but Satwik-Ashwini went for the kill and fittingly won the match with a smash from Satwik.
It was a double delight for Satwiksairaj Rankireddy when he took to the badminton court with Chirag Shetty as they beat Malaysians Ong Yew Sin and Teo Ee Yi 21-18, 24-22 in the men’s doubles quarter-finals.
Satwik-Chirag, the 2019 Thailand Open champions, co-ordinated well on-court, swapping positions with ease, and were precise with their shots.
The Indian badminton pair were superior with their smashes and reactions, which helped them through to the semi-finals.
For play-by-play highlights of the Indian contingent, visit our live blog of Day 4 of the Toyota Thailand Open.
Lead Photo: Badmintonphoto - Courtesy of BWF