Thailand Open: Sindhu, Sameer out; Satwik-Ashwini enter semifinals with upset win


Bangkok, January 22

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 here on Friday.

Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Ashwini Ponappa, however, entered the mixed doubles semifinal with a stunning win over world no. 6 pair of Peng Soon Chan and Liu Ying Goh of Malaysia in a nail-biting 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. — PTI

 



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