Jakarta : Olympic medallist PV Sindhu yet again finished second-best in a major final but grabbed a historic individual silver medal at the Asian Games after losing the women’s singles title clash to World No. 1 Tai Tzu-Ying here on Tuesday.
No Indian had ever reached the final of a singles event at the Asian Games before the 23-year-old from Hyderabad, who lost 13-21, 16-21 in just 34 minutes.
It is the first time that India has won two individual medals at the Asian Games with Saina Nehwal clinching a bronze earlier. Saina was also conquered by Tai in the semi-finals. It was Sindhu’s third defeat in a big final this year, having lost the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games title clash to Saina Nehwal and the World Championship summit clash to Spain’s Carolina Marin.
The Rio Olympic silver medallist had also lost the finals at India Open (to Beiwen Zhang) and Thailand Open (to Nozomi Okuhara) this year. Having lost previous five encounters to Tai, World No. 3 Sindhu needed to punch above her weight to tackle the Chinese Taipei ace. Tai was in complete control from the beginning, taking the first five points of the match, with her trademark sharp returns.
Sindhu had no option but to attack. She returned harder to reduce the deficit to 4-6 but Tai consistently outsmarted Sindhu, using the deft drop shots very effectively. The Taipei player was deceptive in her strokes and pulled away with a 17-10 lead. She would change the angle and direction of the stroke very easily, making it difficult for Sindhu to anticipate and find appropriate returns.
To negate Tai’s strong net game, Sindhu tried to push her back to the baseline in the second game. It got her points but she lost too many points due to unforced errors as some of the shots sailed over the lines. The strategy could have been more effective if she had not missed drop shots after pinning Tai to baseline.
Initially, Sindhu was tied with Tai at 4-4 but as the game wore on, the Taipei shuttler continued to tighten her grip over the contest. An un-returnable smash put her ahead 15-10.
It was over soon with Tai earning a match point with Sindhu netting a shuttle at 15-19. Sindhu saved the first match point with a smash winner on Tai’s backhand. The Taipei ace sealed it with a drop shot winner.
Outplayed for the sixth successive time by Tai, Sindhu said she doesn’t have any mental block against the World No. 1, who can be beaten with a little more ‘patience’. Sindhu insisted that there was not a huge gap and the Chinese Taipei player is beatable. “There is not a huge gap. We just have to be prepared and ready. We are definitely going to break that (losing streak). It’s not easy but if we work on our mistakes, we can do it,” Sindhu said.
“There is no mental block, but sometimes you make mistakes and give her a huge lead. You have to keep going, stick to that. I gave her easy points. If I had played patiently and kept the shuttle in, it could have been different. It was not easy to take points from her because her defence was also good.”
In fact, Sindhu and compatriot Saina Nehwal have lost 22 matches between them to Tai. The last time Sindhu got the better of Tai was at the Rio Olympics.
Asked how different Tai is playing compared to the Rio Games, Sindhu said, “She has improved in her strokes, deception. If we work on those, things might change.
“She is a deceptive player. It was not very tough to take those [shots], if you keep the shuttle in, she tends to make mistakes and definitely not very tough to beat.”
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