After an impressive run, P.V. Sindhu lost her women’s singles semifinal in straight games to settle for bronze medal at the World Championships here on Saturday. Tenth seed Sindhu, who ousted defending champion Yihan Wang and Asian Games gold medallist Shixian Wang en route to the semifinals, was beaten by World No. 3 Ratchanok Intanon 21-10, 21-13 in 36 minutes at the Tianhe Indoor Stadium.
In the final, Intanon meets top-seeded Chinese Xuerui Li, who strolled to a 21-5, 21-11 win against Bae Yeon-Ju of Korea.
Intanon had beaten Sindhu also in the India Open Super Series semifinals in April in New Delhi.
This is only the third instance — and the first in women’s singles — of an Indian bringing home a medal from the Worlds. Prakash Padukone had won a men’s singles bronze in 1983 at Copenhagen, while Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa won a women’s doubles bronze in the 2011 edition.
Lin to meet Lee
Defending World and Olympic champion Lin Dan went through to the men’s final beating Vietnam's Nguyen Tien Minh 21-17, 21-15.
In the other semifinal, World No.1 Lee Chong Wei defeated China’s Du Pengyu 20-22, 21-12, 21-15.
“I haven't really played any world level matches over the past year, and it’s unbelievable that I’ve got into the finals. I’m really happy,” Lin said after the match.
But China will not achieve a third straight clean sweep of the world championships after their men’s doubles pair lost out to Indonesia. Stalwarts Cai Yun and Fu Haifeng lost 21-19, 21-17 to Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan in their semifinal, putting China out of the men's doubles competition.
Sindhu stayed with Intanon as both shuttlers played safe initially. But the fourth seeded Thai soon found her feet and started playing aggressively.
Intanon’s down-the-line smashes proved too good for Sindhu, who was unable to retrieve the shots, allowing the Thai to pull away to 11-4.
Intanon, a three-time junior World champion, used her deceptive overhead which caught Sindhu off guard, forcing her to commit errors into the net. Sindhu struggled with Intanon’s style of play, and the Thai extended the lead by out-maneuvering Sindhu.
The Thai was way ahead when it came to smashes. She had 12 smash winners out of 21 points, in comparison to Sindhu’s three. Intanon converted her first game-point to wrap up the first game in 11 minutes.
In the second, Intanon raced away to a 7-0 lead. Sindhu fought back, but the Thai saw the break 11-5 ahead, using disguise on her shots building her lead.
Soon, Intanon’s speed and agility saw her 20-12 ahead. Sindhu did save one match-point, but capitulated on the next, as Intanon marched on into the final, the first from Thailand to reach the title round of the World Championships in any category.
“If I win tomorrow it will make history for Thailand because we have only ever reached the semifinals,” Intanon said after the match.
Sindhu remained upbeat, saying her ambition was still to be World No.1.
“I made too many errors, and she took a huge lead. I feel a bit disappointed, I could have played better, but next time...” she said.
The results: Semifinals: Men: Lin Dan (Chn) bt Tien Minh Nguyen (Vie) 21-17, 21-15. Lee Chong Wei (Mas) bt Pengyu Du (Chn) 20-22, 21-12, 21-15. Doubles: Mohammad Ahsan & Hendra Setiawan (Ina) bt Cai Yun & Fu Haifeng (Chn) 21-19, 21-17; Mathias Boe & Carsten Mogensen (Den) bt Ki Jung Kim & Sa Rang Kim (Kor) 21-23, 21-18, 21-18.
Women: Li Xuerui bt Bae Yeon-Ju 21-5, 21-11; Ratchanok Intanon bt P.V. Sindhu 21-10, 21-13. Doubles: Eom Hye-Won & Jang Ye-Na (Kor) bt Tian Quing & Zhao Yunlei (Chn) 21-16, 21-19; Xiaoli Wang & Yang Yu (Chn) bt Christinna Pedersen & Kamilla Rytter Juhl (Den) 21-14, 14-21, 21-15.
Mixed doubles: Chen Xu & Jin Ma (Chn) bt Baek Choel Shin & Hye Won Eom 21-15, 21-17; Tontowi Ahmad & Liliyana Natsir (Ina) bt Nan Zhang & Yunlei Zhao (Chn) 15-21, 21-18, 21-13.