Pusarla Venkata Sindhu had reached a new high on her maiden appearance in the World Badminton Championship, where no Indian woman had gone before.
The 18-year-old’s flight of progress was, however, cut short on Saturday when Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon brought her down to earth in the semifinals in Guangzhou, China.
The fourth seed Intanon stopped tenth seed Sindhu with a clinical 21-10, 21-13 win. The one-sided match lasted only 36 minutes. The nimble-footed Thai set up a summit clash with top seed Li Xuerui of China.
Intanon, who won her first Super Series title at the India Open this year, was too good and too fast for Sindhu, who flattered to deceive. After packing off defending champion Wang Yihan of China and her compatriot Wang Shixian on successive days, Sindhu lost her way.
The Thai sensation outplayed Sindhu with a sublime game. Intanon came with a plan to assert her dominance over Sindhu. Playing a parallel game, Intanon did not allow Sindhu to settle down. As a result, Sindhu was clueless. She failed to read Intanon’s game, who time and again pushed her back and played on the right side of Sindhu.
The helpless Indian was left stranded on the court. May be the pressure, too, weighed heavily on her. If she was flawless in the last two matches, on Saturday she committed a number unforced errors and could not control the shuttle.
On the other hand, Intanon played with a lot of flair. Her deceptive flicks often caught Sindhu on the wrong foot. The 18-year-old Thai, who became the youngest women’s finalist in the All England Open this year, outwitted the Indian with parallel smash shots.
The match started on an even note at three-all but once Intanon seized control of the match, she began to toy with Sindhu’s game. From three-all, Intanon set up a scorching pace and ruthlessly demolished Sindhu. Intanon gained in confidence and got a handy lead before sealing the first game in a mere 13 minutes.
Any hopes of a fightback in the second game was shattered at the start as Sindhu, who had lost to Intanon at the India Open, slipped very early. She went into a huge 0-7 deficit. There was no stopping Intanon hereon and she clinched the game and the match in 23 minutes.