For the second time in her career, PV Sindhu suffered semi-final defeat at the prestigious All England Championships as she went down in straight games against sixth seed Pornpawee Chochuwong of Thailand in the women’s singles draw in Birmingham on Saturday.
Sindhu, the reigning world champion, could not quite match the pace, power and precision of her younger world No 11 rival Chochuwong and lost 17-21, 9-21 in a match that lasted 43 minutes.
“I think it was her day, everything she was hitting was on the line, I just couldn’t do anything about it. Overall, I should’ve controlled my unforced errors, maybe things could’ve been different,” Sindhu said.
“I knew it was going to be a good match, she’s not an easy player. Her strokes are really good and she’s going to be a really good player.”
The world No 7 Indian had also lost at the semifinal at the 2018 edition of the tournament.
“Everybody aims to be in the final, it’s over for now so I have to learn from my mistakes and take the positives. I don’t have a tournament for another month so I have time to prepare and come back stronger,” Sindhu, the Olympic silver medallist, said.
Sindhu, seeded fifth, came into the semifinal contest with a 4-1 head-to-head lead over the 23-year-old Chochuwong, whom she had beaten at the World Tour Finals in January.
But those numbers didn’t matter much as Chochuwong showed immaculate defence and agility to outclass the Indian. In fact, Chochuwong is one of the most improved players on tour and had been having a sensational start to the calendar year. Among her notable wins was one against idol and compatriot Ratchanok Intanon and the legendary Tai Tzu Ying, both at the World Tour Finals where she reached semi-final. She also pushed Carolina Marin to the limit in the Swiss Open semi-final this month.
And similar to her Swiss Open final loss against Olympic champion Carolina Marin, Sindhu once again looked behind the pace against an opponent who played at a searing pace.
Perhaps the 76-minute quarterfinal battle against Japan’s Akane Yamaguchi took a toll on Sindhu as Chochuwong completely dominated the proceedings, leaving the Indian to do the catch up act.
Sindhu opened up a 3-1 lead early on but she made a few judgement errors and Chochuwong also played a few good shots to take a 8-5 lead.
The young Thai used her cross-court returns to good affect, leading 11-6 at the break. Chochuwong stepped up the pace and tried to run Sindhu to the corners to lead 14-7.
Sindhu reeled off four straight points next before a wide return made it 11-15. The Indian narrowed it down to 13-15 after the Thai missed the line. Two attacking returns and it was 17-13 for Chochuwong but Sindhu kept snapping at her heels, making it 16-17 with a cross-court smash.
But Chochuwong again moved to 19-16 with Sindhu going wide. A terrific net return gave the Thai four game points. She sent one to the net before Sindhu hit long to hand over the opening game to her rival.
In the second game, Chochuwong took a 4-1 lead and though she committed few unforced errors, she managed to lead 4-3.
The Thai surged ahead, reeling off six points on the trot to make it 10-3. She held a massive seven-point cushion at the break.
It was mostly a one way traffic after that as Sindhu looked resigned to her fate. Chochuwong quickly took a 18-9 lead. Another winner and it was 11 match points for Chochuwong and she sealed it comfortably.
On Friday, Sindhu had defeated Yamaguchi 16-21 21-16 21-19 in an intriguing quarterfinal match to make it to the last eight. It was a gruelling, physical battle and perhaps it played a role in the nature of defeat on Saturday. All the same, her wait to add an All England gold medal to her list of achievements continued for the Indian.
(With PTI inputs)
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