Chasing her first title of the calendar year, PV Sindhu was left ruing her mistakes as the world No 5 lost in straight games against Akane Yamaguchi in the final of Indonesia Open BWF Tour Super 1000 tournament in Jakarta on Sunday.
Seven months after becoming the first Indian to win the season-ending BWF World Tour Finals in December, Olympic silver medallist Sindhu had an opportunity to clinch another crown but lost 15-21, 16-21 to the Japanese in what proved to be a fairly lop-sided summit clash that lasted 51 minutes.
Playing her first final of the season, Sindhu looked a bit anxious and failed to match the brilliance of the 22-year-old Yamaguchi, whom she had beaten in the last four meetings. After clean, largely error-free performances in the quarter-final and semi-final against two equally good players, it was that aspect of the game that let Sindhu down on the big day.
“There were long rallies and I made few mistakes in the first game, when I was leading by two-three points (12-8),” Sindhu said after the match.
“I could have continued from there but gave her the lead at that point and then she finished it off. If I had won the first game, maybe it would have been a bit different. Second game I gave her a huge lead and had to cover up.”
This was Sindhu’s fifth loss to Yamaguchi in 15 meetings, having won their previous four encounters. The last time the Indian lost to the Japanese was at the semi-finals of the All England Championship last year. The Indian said nothing much has changed in their respective games for that trend to reverse in Jakarta, it was just that Yamaguchi was better on the day.
“On shuttles where I should be getting points, I made errors there, hitting little bit off the frame,” Sindhu said. “Some shuttles where she couldn’t take when they were actually going out... if I had won those points it would have been different. It was a different game completely to Okuhara, because the rallies were fast. From my side, those mistakes were costly.”
But, having clinched her first silver medal ahead of a busy schedule, Sindhu is keen to push on.
“It was a good experience, it was a good tournament for me and with this confidence I can go further. It’s Olympic qualification, so everyone is working hard. Next is Japan Open, I hope I do well in that,” she added.
Speaking about the upcoming Olympics and how the scene in women’s singles has changed since the time Sindhu finished with a historic silver, she said the game has evolved quite a bit.
“It’s very different now [compared to four years back]. Some of the players are around but a new lot of players have also come up, there are the new Chinese players. Then and now, the game has changed a lot. The matches are going on really long, there is a need to be very much patient. No one can take it easy against lower-ranked players, because the top 10 players are at the same level now. Anyone can beat anyone on their day,” she said.