New Delhi: USA’s Beiwen Zhang dashed P.V. Sindhu’s hopes of retaining the India Open women’s singles title in a pulsating title clash here on Sunday.
The Las Vegas-based Zhang took down the top seed 21-18, 11-21, 22-20 in a gripping 69-minute battle at a packed Siri Fort Indoor Stadium to win the World Tour 500 event.
Prior to Sunday’s loss, Sindhu had won twice and lost once against the American.
Fourth seed Shi Yuqi of China won the men’s crown, beating world No.7 and third seeded Taiwanese Chou Tien Chen 21-18, 21-14 in a 47-minute duel.
Sindhu has now lost narrowly in multiple finals at big events, including the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Leading 20-19 in the final game, Sindhu squandered a championship point by hitting a return into the net.
Zhang capitalised on the opportunity to deny the world No.4 any further leeway, claiming three points in a row to seal the deciding game 22-20.
Sindhu was the third Hyderabad shuttler to be beaten by Zhang in the tournament. It may be recalled that 15-year-old Jakka Vaishnavi Reddy had stretched the eventual champion to three games before bowing out 19-21, 22-20, 12-21 in the first round. Later, Zhang had slayed Saina Nehwal 21-10, 21-13 in the quarterfinal.
The first game of Sunday’s final was closely contested, with both players level at 15 points before Sindhu conceded three points. Zhang rode on the momentum to win it 21-18.
Sindhu made a quick recovery in the second game. She covered the court well and minimised errors to level the game scores by taking it 21-11.
The decider flowed neck-and-neck and at 20-20, it could have gone either way. But Sindhu failed to compose herself at that crucial juncture and lost the battle.
Fifth seeded Danish combination of Mathias Christiansen and Christinna Pedersen prevailed 21-14, 21-15 over Indonesia’s Praveen Jordan and Melati Daeva Oktavianti to claim the mixed doubles crown, their first title together.
In the women’s doubles final, third seeds Greysia Polii and Apriyani Rahayu of Indonesia beat second seeds Jongkolphan Kititharakul and Rawinda Prajongjai of Thailand 21-18, 21-15.