Sindhu loses three-game thriller on opening day of World Tour Finals

The Indian shuttler slumped to a 21-18, 18-21, 8-21 defeat against Japan’s Akane Yamaguchi.

By Saurabh Shankar ·

India’s sole participant at the 2019 BWF World Tour Finals, PV Sindhu, ended up on the wrong side of the scoreline on the opening day against Akane Yamaguchi.

The fourth ranked shuttler from Japan rallied from a game down to win 18-21, 21-18, 21-8 to start off with a win in Guangzhou, China.

Superb start for Sindhu

The Japanese shuttler started off as the better of the two in the final clash of day, as she was seen taking quick 3-1 lead. However, the reigning World Champion, PV Sindhu, was up for the challenge in the final competition of what has been a topsy turvy badminton season for her, as she was seen racing back into the game with three points on the trot.

The Indian’s powerful smashes and steely accuracy was too hot to handle for the Japanese World No. 4, who was struggling to find the right returns. Sindhu took a narrow 11-8 advantage heading into the break before continuing the wreckage in the second half of the game as well, extending her lead.

The 2016 Rio Olympics silver medallist was making most of her height advantage, playing closer to the net and thereby slashing her opponent’s reaction time. And before Yamaguchi could realize, she was trailing 11-17. However, she did stage a fightback picking four consecutive points to reduce the deficit to just two points.

But, it was too late by then as Sindhu had momentum on her side and she took refuge in her powerful smashes to survive a late scare and claim the first game 21-18

Yamaguchi’s comeback

With Sindhu in great form, many expected her to dominate from the word go in the second game, but it was Yamaguchi who started off well as she took a 4-2 advantage early on. However, the Indian muscle used her power to good use yet again,picking six of the next seven points.

Sindhu managed to win all her long rallies initially, strengthening her position further in the game. The 24-year-old’s body-line smashes were a source of concern for Yamaguchi, who was once again trailing at the break, this time 7-11.

However, just when everyone thought that the match was all but over, Yamaguchi came all guns blazing racking up points on the trot to have the score reading 18-18 in no time. She had caught the missing nerve and there was no stopping her this time. The persistent Japanese managed to execute some mind-boggling shots to halt Sindhu in her tracks to claim a 21-18 win in the second game and level the match.

No stopping Yamaguchi

After the remarkable comeback in the second game, it was as though Yamaguchi had flipped a switch to utterly dominate her towering opponent. She took a five nothing lead early on and never let the ball slip and before Sindhu could know, the defending BWF World Tour Finals champion was trailing 3-11 at the break.

The first two games seemed to have sapped the energy off Sindhu as she struggled to keep up with the pace of the game. And despite her superior physicality to that of diminutive Yamaguchi, the bulk of the smashes came from the Japanese’s end.

Though Sindhu tried forging a comeback by picking three consecutive points in the second half of the decided, Yamaguchi was way ahead. She claimed four points of her won on the trot to complete a stunning 18-21, 21-18, 21-8 comeback victory in her first match of the tournament.

In the other matches of the group, second ranked Chen Yufei, who will be Sindhu’s next opponent, emerged victorious with a 21-9, 21-18 victory over compatriot He Bing Jiao.