Pusarla Venkata Sindhu's giant-killing run came to an end in the World Badminton Championship in Guangzhou, China on Saturday. In an one-sided semifinal, Thailand's Ratchanok Intanon demolished her Indian opponent 21-10, 21-3 in just 35 minutes. Ratchanok is the first Thailand shuttler ever to enter the final of a world championship. She will now clash with top-seed Chinese Li Xuerui. (Bit upset after loss but big 'victory' for me: PV Sindhu)
Sindhu had already scripted history on Friday when she upset former world No. 1 Wang Shixian 21-18, 21-16 in the quarterfinals. She became the first Indian woman ever to win a singles bronze at WBC. The only other Indian to win a world bronze was Prakash Padukone in 1983. Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponappa had won a doubles bronze in 2011 at Wembley. ('PV Sindhu lost to Prakash Padukone's style of play by Intanon')
Tenth-seeded Sindhu was the tournament's giant-killer. The 18-year-old from Hyderabad was the competition's 10th seed but en route to Saturday's semis, surprised higher ranked Chinese opponents like sixth seed Wang Shixian and second seed Wang Yihan. But Saturday proved to be an anti-climax as a defensive Sindhu failed to push Ratchanok at any stage of their 35-minute contest. (Match as it happened)
Ratchanok is among the world's top three rising stars. The world No. 3 Thai started as the favourite and lived every bit to her reputation against her world No. 12 Indian rival. The three-time junior world champion was simply too good for Sindhu with her wristy flicks and amazing court control. Sindhu, who had lost to Ratchanok 21-12, 21-6 in the Indian Open in Delhi in April this year, only made things difficult with a string of unforced errors in both games. (PV Sindhu, you rock, says Jwala Gutta)
The first game was over in 13 minutes with Sindhu conceding a 10-4 lead never to look back. Ratchanok won the longer rallies and teased Sindhu with clever drop shots. The petite Thai lass was a touch artist, using the racquet like a paintbrush against a struggling Sindhu, who never played the attacking game she is known for. (Watch: PV Sindhu's father says she needs to be more aggressive)
Sindhu gave up early in the second game as Ratchanok built a 7-1 lead in a jiffy. The Thai used the same techniques as an error-prone Sindhu either sent the shuttle wide off the mark or caught the net with her returns. Sindhu staged a brief recovery but only because Ratchanok was making the mistakes. However, the 18-year-old was too good to let the match slip away as Ratchanok sealed the contest with a smashing return that pinned Sindhu to the far court.