Thailand Open Super 1000: PV Sindhu, Sameer Verma suffer defeats; Satwiksairaj Rankireddy-Ashwini Ponappa pair enters semi-finals
The unseeded Indian pair toiled hard for one hour and 15 minutes to beat their world no. 6 Malaysian opponents 18-21, 24-22, 22-20 in a nail-biting quarterfinal duel.
Bangkok: World champion PV Sindhu dished out a below-par performance to lose her quarterfinal match, while Sameer Verma's gallant fight ended in agony in the Toyota Thailand Open Super 1000 tournament on Friday.
Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Ashwini Ponappa, however, entered the mixed doubles semi-final with a stunning win over world no. 6 pair of Peng Soon Chan and Liu Ying Goh of Malaysia in a nail-bitting quarterfinal duel.
Olympic silver medallist Sindhu looked a pale shadow of the player who had won the world championship gold in 2019 as she was all at sea against home favourite Ratchanok Inthanon, who rode on her precision and quality of strokes to outclass the Indian 21-13, 21-9 in a lop-sided contest.
In men's singles, Sameer's giant-killing run also came to an end after he squandered a match point to go down 13-21, 21-19, 20-22 to World No 3 Anders Antonsen of Denmark in a quarterfinal contest.
With the defeat of Sindhu and Sameer, Indian challenge in singles competition ended in the tournament.
The only bright spot was the duo of Satwik and Ashwini as they shocked the fifth seeded Malaysian pair 18-21, 24-22, 22-20 after toiling hard for one hour and 15 minutes.
The World No 22 Indian pair will be up against top seeds Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai of Thailand.
Ratchanok, who had lost to Sindhu in their last three meetings, came out with a positive intent and eked out a three-point lead early on even as Sindhu failed to control the length. The Thai soon grabbed a four-point advantage at the first-game interval.
Sindhu looked to force the pace after the break and caught up at 13-13. However, it was a one-way traffic after that as Ratchanok blew the Indian away with eight straight points to pocket the opening game without much ado.
The change of sides didn't bring any change of fortunes for Sindhu as she trailed 1-7 at one stage before going into the break seven points behind her rival.
After the breather, Ratchanok eased to 19-7 before grabbing a massive 12 match points. The Thai missed a point due to a misjudgement at the backline before shutting the match with another precise return.
In the other singles match, Antonsen was up 5-0 with Sameer looking tentative and struggling with his length, hitting long and wide. The Danish shuttler continued his good run, managing to keep a six-point advantage at the break.
Sameer couldn't engage his rival in long rallies or put any kind of pressure and also struggled with his shots as Antonsen cantered to eight game points and took the opening game when the Indian went wide again.
After the change of sides, Antonsen opened up a 5-1 lead but Sameer managed to claw back with four straight points. A brilliant cross court net shot helped the Indian to keep it 7-7 before he took the lead as his opponent erred.
However, at the interval, it was Antonsen who held a slender one-point lead. Sameer kept breathing down his neck and grabbed a game point with an onrushing return. He roared back into the contest when Antenson faltered at the net.
The decider started on a competitive note as the duo were 5-5 at one stage before Sameer moved to 9-6 with a few tricky shots and then held three-point advantage at the interval.
Antonsen regained his focus and drew parity at 13-13 after Sameer erred twice at the net. It was a game of nerves after that as both the shuttlers moved neck-and-neck till 18-18. Sameer then pushed one to the net and won a video referral next to move to 19-19.
Sameer grabbed a match point next with a deep return but found the net next as it was 20-all.
Antonsen grabbed a match point with a precise return at the fore court and sealed the match with a similar shot which the Indian failed to reach.
Spain's Marin breezes into semi-finals
Spanish fifth seed and former world number one Carolina Marin sailed through to the semi-finals, beating Turkey's Neslihan Yigit 21-6, 21-15.
The 27-year-old Spaniard, ranked sixth in the world, is aiming for back-to-back titles in this week's tournament — the second of three consecutive events in Bangkok that culminate in next week's World Tour Finals.
She came out on top last week against top-seeded Tai Tzu-ying, and continued her winning streak Friday — despite Yigit holding a brief lead in the second set.
"I wanted to keep going, keep fighting and keep the focus on what I needed to do, even when Yigit was leading," said Marin.
She added that she was impressed with the 32nd-ranked Yigit — the sole Turkish player to make the quarter-finals at a Super 100 tournament.
"I hope that more European players will be playing badminton at this level," Marin said.
Marin will be facing off in the semi-finals against South Korean An Se-young, a formidable teenager who was awarded "Most Promising Player" in 2019.
They already duelled in last week's tournament, with the more experienced Marin winning in a quick 21-18, 21-16 match.
The 18-year-old, ranked ninth in the world, said she would need to up her mental game in preparation for their showing on Saturday.
"If I want to win against Marin, I need to focus more than last time and have more confidence," An said, after she disposed of Thai player Pornpawee Chochuwong in a 21-15, 21-18 match full of smashes and attacks.
The athletes have been facing off under tight biosecurity because of the coronavirus pandemic, and without spectators, although the tournaments have been blighted by four positive coronavirus cases.
With inputs from agencies
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