Indian shuttlers belied expectations in the Badminton Asia Championships, their campaign ending quicker than expected after PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal were knocked out in the quarterfinals on Friday. In a men’s singles quarterfinal match earlier in the day, Sameer Verma too was shown the door after he suffered a 10-21, 12-21 loss to second seed Shi Yuqi of China.
Taking the court first, London Olympic bronze medallist Saina put up a tough fight but could not avoid a 13-21, 23-21, and 16-21 defeat at the hands of third seed Akane Yamaguchi of Japan. The match lasted an hour and nine minutes. Saina, seeded seventh, had needed just 38 minutes to get the better of Kim Ga Eun of Korea to enter the last eight round on Thursday.
Much was expected from fourth seed Sindhu but the Rio Olympic silver medallist was stunned by an unseeded local girl Cai Yanyan. Sindhu looked a pale shadow of herself and was blown away 19-21, 9-21 by Yanyan.
The world number six Indian went down in just 31 minutes against her Chinese opponent, who is ranked 11 places below the four-time world championship medallist. It was Sindhu’s maiden loss against Yanyan.
The quarterfinal duel between Saina and Yamaguchi was a marathon one with both the players matching each other stroke for stroke till the first 10 points of the opening game before the Japanese won eight straight points to take the lead.
It was a close affair between the duo in the second game as well. Locked at 21 apiece, Saina struck two consecutive winners to level the contest.
Saina continued the good work and raced to a 7-2 lead in the decider which she later extended to 14-11 before Yamaguchi roared back into the contest to surge ahead 17-14.
The Japanese never looked back from there and closed down the contest by winning the decider 21-16. After Saina’s ouster, the onus was on Sindhu to keep India’s flag flying but she was completely out of sorts on Friday.
Sindhu produced some fight in the opening game before losing it 19-21.
But in the second game Sindhu was completely outplayed by her lower-ranked Chinese opponent, who just ran away with the second game after the initial seven points.