Star Indian shuttler P.V. Sindhu fell to fifth seeded Beiwen Zhang from the US in the women’s singles final of the $350,000 India Open BWF World Tour Super 500 on Sunday.
The defending champion and top seed lost 18-21, 21-11, 20-22 in an hour and nine minutes to give Beiwen her “career’s best moment” at the Siri Fort Sports Complex here.
With the win, Beiwen levelled 2-2 in the head-to-head records against the Olympic 2016 silver medallist Sindhu. Beiwen bagged the winner’s cheque of $26,250, while Sindhu got $13,300.
In the women’s singles final, Beiwen was quick off the blocks. In the first game, she took a 3-0 early lead but Sindhu gained three consecutive points to pull level.
Beiwen looked sharper, especially on her defence, as she opened up a 8-5 lead before the Indian took a 9-8 lead. Sindhu went to the mid-game interval with a 11-9 lead.
However, Beiwen fought back after the break and later the two were involved in a see-saw battle till the 16-point mark from where Beiwen broke away. She fired a winner on the left and then Sindhu netted one before putting one out to concede three points on the trot.
Beiwen allowed Sindhu to be back into the contest as she wrongly judged one stroke to be long. The American then could only push it on to the net. But another winner was followed by Sindhu’ putting one wide to give Beiwen the 21-18 win.
In the second game, playing in front of the home crowd, Sindhu charged into contention by winning the second game quite easily. She was much more dominant, bringing her smashes into play. She raced to a 8-2 lead before Beiwen made it 4-8.
Sindhu, however, led 11-4 at the mid-game break.
After the break, Beiwen collected one point after another to narrow down the deficit to three at 10-13 before Sindhu grabbed seven consecutive points to take the match to the third game.
Beiwen, however, got her way in the third game, reducing the time and lift Sindhu was getting in the previous game.
Beiwen held a 9-4 lead but Sindhu rose to the challenge, not allowing her opponent to have her way.
Sindhu trailed 9-11 at the mid-game interval but after the change of ends the Indian quickly pulled level at the 11-point mark.
After Beiwen got one more point, Sindhu’s drop shot was netted by the American, who then conceded the 12-13 lead after failing to defend a smash on the right.
Leading 15-14, Sindhu was unable pick drop shots twice before hitting a defensive shot wide to give Beiwen a 17-15 advantage.
Sindhu hit back with two bodyline smashes to equalise at 19-19 and a drop shot which Beiwen failed to reach.
The American then failed to respond to a smash to trail 19-20. Sindhu then shot one to the net to make it 20-all. Beiwen then fired a smash before Sindhu hit one wide to lose the game 20-22.
Beiwen said: “Sindhu was under pressure of expectations in front of the Indian crowd, while I had nothing to lose. That helped me.
“Normally I don’t hit so many smashes but I managed to do it today,” Beiwen said, revealing the errors of Sindhu.
Meanwhile, in the men’s singles category, Chinese third seed Shi Yuqi beat Chinese Taipei’s second seed Chou Tien Chen 21-18, 21-14 in 47 minutes.
For 21-year-old Yuqi, it was his first title since French Open victory in October 2016. Having gone without a title in 2017, Yuqi was anxious for 2018. “I really wanted it,” Yuqi, the 2017 All-England runner-up, told reporters after the match.
Looking ahead to the season, he hoped to build on from here. “When you win once, you eye the second title. So, I will be doing that,” the Chinese said.
Indonesian men’s doubles top-seeds Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo lived up to their reputation as they got past Danish fourth seeds Kim Astrup and Anders Skaarup Rasmussen 21-14, 21-16 in 38 minutes.
Gideon-Sukamuljo had won at the Indonesia Masters last week. They also won the title at the India Open for the third consecutive time.
The women’s doubles title went to Indonesian third seeds Greysia Polii and Apriyani Rahayu, who won 21-18, 21-15 in 58 minutes against Thai second seeds Jongkolphan Kititharakul and Rawinda Prajongjai.