Defending champion PV Sindhu suffered a straight-game defeat to familiar foe and world number one Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei in the women’s singles quarterfinals to bow out of the BWF World Badminton Championships in Spain on Friday.

The top-seeded Tai Tzu beat Sindhu 21-17 21-13 in an energy-sapping match that lasted 42 minutes.

Sindhu found it difficult to match Tai Tzu’s speed, court coverage and drop shots as has been the case many times earlier though the Indian produced some fine cross-court smashes.

Sindhu, who also made many unforced errors during the match, was always playing catch-up. She managed to do that in the second game at one stage but lost steam later on.

The win extended the head-to-head record between the two top players to 15-5 in favour of the Chinese Taipei player.

The world number seven and double Olympic-medallist Sindhu had also lost to Tai Tzu in the Tokyo Games semifinals earlier this year.

Tai Tzu, on the other hand, avenged her defeat to Sindhu in the 2019 World Championships at the same stage.

The two players – friends off the court – were tied 2-2 early on but Tai Tzu shifted gears quickly to take a lead of 11-6 at the change of ends in the first game.

Sindhu made a recovery to narrow down the gap to 16-18 and then 17-19 with some fine cross-court smashes. But the Indian could not maintain the tempo till the end as she hit wide twice to lose the first game in 17 minutes.

The second game was more closely contested, but again Tai Tzu led 11-8 at the change of ends after Sindhu made an error in judgment.

But two brilliant smashes by Sindhu saw the gap being narrowed to just one point at 10-11.

Tai Tzu took the next point but Sindhu produced another cross-court smash to make it 11-12. The Chinese Taipei player then sent the shuttle wide for Sindhu to level the scores at 12-12.

The nimble-footed Tai Tzu took the next three points but then hit on the nets. An unsuccessful line call challenge saw Sindhu trail 13-16.

The Indian hit the net next and could not reach a drop shot from her great rival to trail by five points at 13-18. A Tai Tzu smash finally finished off the match.

Here’s what Sindhu had to say after the match:

On the match: I think it was a good game overall. Long rallies. I think it was just her day today and it wasn’t mine. I think it was a good match even though it was just two sets and at some point, it was like equal and there were long rallies but it was just her day. There was nothing more to say. Maybe there were a few mistakes but it happens. But in the second game after 12-12, I gave her 4-5 points continuously and maybe I should’ve taken a break there is what I felt. Otherwise, it was all fine… the movement and other stuff.

Sindhu on what she could have done better: Yeah, I think I should have been more patient. With Tai Tzu, as I mentioned, there are not going to be any easy points and you could see today, there were no easy points.

Sindhu on the year: Year has been good so far. Maybe if I had got a medal here too it would’ve been good. But a lot of positives to take from here and the whole year has been good for me so far. I am happy about it but a bit sad about today’s loss. It is time to go home, rest well and come back strong for next year.