PV Sindhu went down fighting against Akane Yamaguchi in her opening group match at the BWF World Tour Finals in Guangzhou on Wednesday.
Sindhu lost 21-18, 18-21, 8-21 in an encounter that lasted one hour and eight minutes.
Yamaguchi fought back from a four-point deficit in the second game to take the match into the decider in which she blew away the reigning world champion.
Sindhu was the better player in the first game and for the most part of the second and looked set to record a relatively easy opening win against the fourth-ranked Yamguchi.
However, the Japanese took five points on the trot in the second game to level the scores from being 10-15 down. Sindhu then made four errors at the net to allow Yamaguchi to reach the game point, which she converted with a cross-court smash.
In the decider, Sindhu looked to be completely out of her depth as Yamaguchi raced to a 5-0 lead. Sindhu managed to get just three points before the interval and was thus trailing 3-11 at the break. The rest of the match was more of the same and Yamaguchi ensured that Sindhu did not reach double digits.
Sindhu’s head-to-head record against Yamaguchi now reads 10-7 but the Indian has lost to the Japanese in their last three meetings.
In fact, Sindhu has not been having a good year despite having won the World Championship in Basel back in August. The Olympic silver medallist, who had reached the finals of Indonesia Open Super 750 tournament in July, made two first-round exits at Korea Open and Fuzhou China Open and went down in the second round in three events — China Open Super 1000, Denmark Open Super 750 and Hong Kong Open Super 500.
Sindhu is placed in group A alongside Chinese duo of Chen Yu Fei and He Bing Jiao and Japan’s Akane Yamaguchi, and will take on He Bing Jiao on Thursday. Sindhu will now have to win both of her next two games to stay in contention for a place in the next round.
Continuing her good form this season, Yu Fei beat Bingjiao 21-9, 21-18 to win her first match. In what was a story of two very different games, Bingiao improved on her dismal show in the first game to match her compatriot toe to toe until it was 18-18. Yu Fei then won three successive points to win the match.
Against Chen Yu Fei too, Sindhu enjoys a 6-3 record but the Chinese has been in rampaging form this season, having won all six of her finals, including the All England Championships.
Sindhu, however, has lost nine times to He Bing Jiao with four of them coming in their last four encounters. The Chinese won the Korea Open, besides finishing runner-ups at India Open and Badminton Asia Championships.
(With inputs from Agencies)
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