After creating waves in the international badminton circuit, P.V. Sindhu lost her women’s singles semifinal in straight games to settle for a bronze medal at the World Championships in this Chinese city Saturday. Tenth seed Sindhu, who ousted defending champion Yihan Wang and Asian Games gold medallist Shixian Wang enroute the last four, was beaten by World No.3 Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand 10-21, 13-21 in 36 minutes at the Tianhe Indoor Stadium. The Thai fourth seed had also beaten Sindhu in the India Open Super Series semifinals in April in New Delhi.
This is only the third instance, and first in women’s singles, that an Indian will bring home a medal from the Worlds. Prakash Padukone won the men’s singles bronze in 1983 at Copenhagen while Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa won another bronze in women’s doubles in the 2011 edition.
Sindhu matched Ratchanok at the net as both shuttlers played safe initially. But the fourth seed found legs and started playing aggressively. Ratchanok’s down-the-line smashes proved too good for Sindhu, who was unable to retrieve the shots, allowing the Thai to pull away to 11-4 in five minutes.
Ratchanok, a three-time Junior World Champion, used her typical deceptive overhead shots which caught Sindhu off guard and forced her to commit errors into the net. The Hyderabadi struggled with Ratchanok’s style of play, who extended the lead by out-maneuvering Sindhu. The Thai was way ahead when it came to smashes. She had 12 smash winners out of 21 points in comparison to Sindhu’s three, helping her to convert her only gamepoint and finishing the game in 11 minutes.
In the second game, Ratchanok raced away to a 7-0 lead. Sindhu tried notching a few points but the Thai made sure that she retained a healthy lead and was ahead 11-5 at the break. The fourth seed disguised her shots and kept building her lead.
The Thai’s speed and agility made her rush to a 20-12 lead. The World No.12 saved one of the eight matchpoints but in the end, the game and match went to Ratchnok, who became the first player from Thailand to reach the finals of the World Championships in any category, ensuring her country of at least a silver medal.