PV Sindhu finally got the better of Tai Tzu Ying after losing six consecutive matches against her. (Image credit: Twitter)
Olympic silver medallist PV Sindhu finally broke her jinx against world no 1 Tai Tzu Ying with a come-from-behind win in a thriller, while Sameer Verma outclassed Indonesia's Tommy Sugiarto at the World Tour Finals in Guangzhou. After six successive losses in 13 meetings, Sindhu got the better of her nemesis Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei 14-21 21-16 21-18 in a Group A match that lasted a little over an hour. World No 14 Sameer, who qualified for the tournament at the last moment after defending his title at the Syed Modi International last month, dished out a dominating performance to beat the 10th ranked Sugiarto 21-16 21-7 in a 40-minute group B clash.
The 24-year-old Indian had lost the opening match against world no 1 and world champion Kento Momota. Sindhu, who had finished runners-up in the last edition, gave ample display of her grit as she bounced back from a game down and erased a 6-11 deficit in the final game to record her first win over Asian Games champion Tzu Ying since the 2016 Rio Olympics. In the 16-minute opening game, Sindhu couldn't produce the winners initially and could only consolidate on the unforced errors of her rival. Tzu Ying, on the other hand, looked as impressive as ever with her deceptive strokes and technical acumen.
Sindhu was lagging 2-6 early on. Tai extended her lead to 8-4 after Sindhu went long and wide. A couple of good looking shots helped Sindhu to grabbed two points before she lifted one to the net. Two delightful shot with her racquet head on both sides of the court gave Tzu Ying a 11-7 advantage at the first break.
After the breather, Tzu Ying unleashed two cross court returns on Sindhu's backhand to continue gathering points, reaching 15-8. Sindhu grabbed the next three points before the Chinese Taipei shuttler produced a smash to break the run of points.
Tzu Ying's acute angled strokes bothered Sindhu as she reached 17-12. A lucky net chord gave another point to Tzu Ying, who also played an eye-catching behind-the-back shot to win another point. She grabbed six game points when Sindhu went to the net and sealed the opening game as the Indian went long. In the second game, Tzu Ying made Sindhu run around the court with her acute angled returns but made many unforced errors herself. Sindhu jumped to 6-3 with her rival missing the lines time and again.
At 3-6, a long rally ensued which ended with Tzu Ying's incredible cross court stroke from the back of the court. A winner gave Sindhu a five-point cushion before she reached 10-4. Tzu Ying grabbed two points before going long again, giving Sindhu a 11-6 advantage at the breather. Tzu Ying tried to stage a comeback but Sindhu managed to extend her five-point advantage, moving to 17-12. The Taiwanese girl went long and found the net as Sindhu moved to 19-13. Tzu Ying got another point before she miscued one to hand over six game points to Sindhu. Tzu Ying saved two before serving out as Sindhu took the match to the decider.
In the final game, Tzu Ying led 3-0 early after Sindhu went long twice. The Taiwanese's incredible touch helped her to extend it to 5-2. She caught Sindhu at the forecourt with her over-the-head cross court shot again. Tzu Ying sent one to net and went wide again to allow Sindhu narrow down the lead but her angled strokes kept her ahead of the indian at 8-5.
Tzu Ying once again exploited the corners with her cross court returns and then Sindhu went long and this time Tzu Ying held a five-point advantage. After the last change of ends, Sindhu made it 11-12 before Tzu Ying unleashed a body smash. But three unforced errors saw the Indian wrest back the lead, moving to 16-13 quickly. An over-the-head cross court return took Sindhu to 17-13.
The Indian added another point before going to nets. A body smash took Tzu Ying to 15-18. Sindhu reciprocated with a body blow and then a lucky net chord helped the Indian grab a four-match point advantage. Tzu Ying caught the line by a whisker to stay alive and then Sindhu smashed wide to lose another match point.
But the Taiwanese went wide again after another superb rally. In the men's singlesr, Sameer, who had come into the tournament with a 1-1 head-to-head record against Sugiarto, looked comfortable the Indonesian as his sharp game made life difficult for his opponent. The Indian lagged 1-3 and 5-6 initially but he soon wrested the lead with four straight points before entering the break at 11-7.
Sugiarto tried to stage a comeback and narrowed the deficit to 16-17 but Sameer reeled off the remaining four points to earn the bragging rights.
In the second game, Sugiarto again took a slender 5-3 advantage but the Indian stamped his authority to move from 7-6 to 16-6 with a nine-point burst, and then slammed the door on his rival with another five straight points.