All England Championship: PV Sindhu suffers shock defeat

Tressa Jolly and Gayatri Gopichand shock world no. 7 in women’s doubles

| Updated: 16 March, 2023 6:41 am IST
PV Sindhu suffered yet another first round loss this year

It was a day of mixed bag for Indian shuttlers at the prestigious All England Championships as star shuttler PV Sindhu suffered yet another first round defeat.

However, the young women’s doubles pair of Tressa Jolly and Gayatri Gopichand brought cheers to the Indian contingent with their shocking win.

A double Olympic medallist, Sindhu suffered a 17-21, 11-21 loss against China’s Zhang Yi Man on the opening day of the prestigious tournament on Wednesday, March 15.

Incidentally, it was the third time that the former World No. 2 suffered a first-round exit this year. In January, Sindhu suffered a first-round loss against Olympic gold medallist Carolina Marin of Spain in the Malaysia Open. The 27-year-old was then eliminated in the first round of the Indian Open.

In a bid to change her fortune, Sindhu recently parted ways with South Korean coach Park Tae-sang. Incidentally, it was under Park that Sindhu picked up an Olympic bronze at the Tokyo Olympics.

That seems to have had little effect on Sindhu, who looked rusty as her World No. 17 rival dominated her with more agility and attacking intent. Both Sindhu and Zhang shared a 1-1 record before their match on Wednesday.

To begin with, it appeared things would finally brighten up for Sindhu, the lone Indian in the draw. She led 6-5 before making it 16-13.

However, Zhang turned the tables at that moment. She went on to win seven straight points to lead 20-16 before sealing the deal in 21 minutes.

Both shuttlers were moving head-to-head in the second game. But at 5-5, Sindhu slipped out of the race with a few unforced errors, as Zhang made it 10-5.

Sindhu recovered a bit, but that was simply not enough as Zhang toyed with her Indian rival, who had returned to the court just two months ago after five months of being out of action due to a stress fracture on her left foot.

As Zhang thrived on her athletic abilities, the 2021 World Championship bronze medallist soon raced to a 16-9 lead before sealing the deal.

While Sindhu will understandably hog the limelight, it was the performance by India’s women’s doubles pair of Jolly and Gayatri that lit up the day for India.

The young Indian pair shocked the seventh seeded pair of Thailand’s Jongkolphan Kititharakul and Rawinda Prajongjai 21-18, 21-14 in a 46-minute first round match. It was the Indian pair’s first win in eight games.

In the men’s singles, Srikant Kidambi overcame a first game loss to beat France’s Toma Junior Popov 19-21, 21-14, 21-5.

India’s latest badminton sensation, Lakshya Sen, also moved into the next round with a 21-18, 21-19 win over Taiwan’s World No. 5 Chou Tien Chen.

Prannoy Roy also moved on to the next round with a 21-19, 22-20 win over Wang Tzu Wei of Taiwan.

It was a mixed day for Indians in men’s doubles as the sixth seeded pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty beat teammates Krishna Prasad Garaga and Vishnuvardhan Goud Panjala 21-13, 21-13.

However, it was curtains for MR Arjun and Dhruv Kapila as they suffered 16-21, 15-21 against the Chinese pair of Ren Xiang Yu and Tan Qiang.

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