Hong Kong Open | Sindhu goes down fighting in final

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Hong Kong Open | Sindhu goes down fighting in final

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SportsCafe Desk


PV Sindhu put up a great attacking display, but it just was not enough today against a magical Tai Tzu Ying who won the final of the Hong Kong Open 21-15, 21-17. The World No.3, who had lost to Sindhu in the Rio Olympics, exacted sweet revenge and continued her climb up the rankings ladder.

PV Sindhu had an inferior head-to-head record of 3-4 going into the match against Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei. But things had moved so much from their last match-up that the number did not matter. In the last encounter between the two, Sindhu had downed Tai in straight sets enroute to her silver medal at the Rio Olympics, and had after that won her maiden Superseries title as well – just last week at the China Open. Tai Tzu, as well had, in the interim, climbed up five spots to World No. 3 thanks to a glorious form of late.

Coach Gopichand had expected that the last duel between the two would form the backdrop for this enticing encounter.

"It is going to be interesting because back then Sindhu was the underdog but here in a way the roles are reversed," he had said. "Tai is a very tricky player and she has beaten Carolina Marin (World Number One and Olympic champion) to reach the final. The match at the Olympics will be at the back of the minds of both players. Tai will want revenge and Sindhu will want to stamp her authority."

It was Tai who showed how much she wanted to win this match early on. Tai went ahead 1-2 with a down-the-line smash latching on to a loose return by Sindhu, and that would set the tempo for the game. (* all scores in the article written in format of Sindhu-Tai)

Sindhu continued to be error-prone in the early exchanges until 3-6 before she caught up to her opponent with a delightful drop to draw par at 7-7.

Sindhu appeared to have gained momentum with that rally. On the next point, she came up with some scorching body-blows which the Taipei player somehow returned, but Sindhu closed it out with a down-the-line winner to go 8-7.

However, errors crept back into Sindhu's play as Tai moved the pace of the game up a notch to go 8-10. The World No. 3 went into the break with a wily drop-drive to end a long rally to go 8-11.

Tai capped up her play with a precise drop from the backcourt to leave Sindhu stranded in the middle and go up 8-13 – that was easily the best point of the game.

Tai's acrobatics went another notch at 13-18 as she made an overhead return without even looking, but the next bodysmash from Sindhu caught her unawares.

Tai soon reached gamepoint, and typical of the game thus far, it was a wide return by Sindhu that gave the game to the Taipei player at 15-21.

Tai started the second game with a series of errors allowing Sindhu to go up 4-1. She climbed back and closed the gap with a smash into Sindhu's backhand, but the Indian gained the advantage immediately back to go up 5-4.

The exchanges from here on saw the opponents neck-to-neck and playing to their strengths – Tai engaging in her crafty play, and Sindhu banking on her sizzling smashes.

Locked at 10-10, Tai kept coming up with magical drops which Sindhu somehow magically managed to return, and the frustration ended up with Tai sending her smash long, also sending Sindhu into the break with the lead – somehow the Indian had managed to hold on.

Tai, however, raced out of the blocks after the break, and managed to win crucial points by luring Sindhu into netplay and reach 12-15.

At 15-18, Tai came up with three unbelievable pick-ups in a 32-shot rally, but Sindhu finally found a way through in the end. However, Tai's gameplay today was on another level – she tormented Sindhu with her last-second returns and disguised drops to soon set up four Championship points at 16-20 and converted the s]econd one.

With that, Tai had won the title she had previously won in 2013.

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