London: On the cusp of history, Olympic silver medallist PV Sindhu let history slip out of her hands as she lost hard-fought semifinal against Japanese Akane Yamaguchi to bow out of the $1000,000 All England championship here today.
Sindhu failed to capitalise on a lead in the decider to go down 21-19 19-21 18-21 to Yamaguchi after battling for an hour and 19 minutes. This was the ninth victory on the trot for the world no 2 Japanese, who had won the German Open early this month.
In the match which went down to the wire, both Sindhu and Yamaguchi threw themselves on the court, traversing diagonally again and again during a series of punishing rallies, which defined the edge-of-the-seat thriller.
However, in the end, it was 20-year old Yamaguchi, who showed better nerves to walk away with the match and cement a place at the finals against Taiwanese Tai Tzu Ying.
Despite being on the court for almost 3 and a half hours during the three-game matches in last three days, Sindhu didn’t show any sign of fatigue and matched Yamaguchi as they looked to outdo each other. But a slight lapse of concentration in the dying moments and the match was over in the end.
It was quite a task to tame the Japanese as she was extremely fast on the court and retrieved most of the diagonal strokes that Sindhu threw at her. Another long rally ended with Sindhu missing the line as Yamaguchi had two game points. Sindhu saved one when the Japanese hit long. But in the end, a lucky net chord sealed the game in Yamaguchi’s favour and kept her alive in the contest.
The battle for supremacy continued in the decider and after the first six points, Sindhu unleashed a couple of fantastic down-the-line smashes on both the flanks to grab a 6-3 lead. She extended it to 8-5 with another attacking return.
After changing sides for the last time, Sindhu grabbed two more points before Yamaguchi produced a body smash. The Japanese kept putting the shuttle in difficult positions and won another long rally to keep snapping at her heels. A bad judgment at the backline and another wide shot saw Yamaguchi level score at 14-14.
The testing rallies continued as the duo moved neck and neck till 18-18. Sindhu lost a video challenge and a smashing follow-up return earned the Japanese two match points and she sealed it with another smash as Sindhu was left disappointed.
Pusarla Venkata Sindhu, born 5 July 1995, is a professional badminton player, who is currently world no 4 in the BWF World Ranking. At the 2016 Summer Olympics, she became the first Indian woman to win an Olympic silver medal. She is one of the two Indian badminton players to ever win an Olympic medal – other being Saina Nehwal. She was also a silver medalist at the 2017 BWF World Championships and, in 2017, became first Indian ever to win Korea Open Super Series.
Sindhu came to international attention when she broke into the top 20 of the BWF World Ranking in September 2012 at the age of 17. In 2013, she became the first ever Indian women’s singles player to win a medal at the Badminton World Championships. In March 2015, she is the recipient of India’s fourth highest civilian honour, the Padma Shri. Her silver medal win in the women’s singles event of the 2016 Summer Olympics made her the first Indian shuttler to reach the final of an Olympics badminton event and the youngest Indian to make a podium finish in an individual event at the Olympics. She is one among the top five shuttlers in women’ s singles category.