The Carolina Marin juggernaut at the Premier Badminton League (PBL) finally came to a grinding halt. After wins over PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal in her first two encounters, the World No 2, representing Hyderabad Hunters, finally met her match in Mumbai Rockets’ Sung Ji Hyun, who beat her 11-7, 7-11, 14-12 at Mumbai’s NSCI Stadium on Wednesday. (SCHEDULE)
The Hunters went on to lose the tie 1-2.
Even though Ji Hyun is ranked third in the world, her victory owed a great deal to Marin being uncharacteristically error-prone on the night. Time after time, Marin’s smashes and pinpoint placements won her points but they would often be followed by shots that would crash into the net.
Having lost the first game 7-11, Marin came back strongly in the second attacking her way to a 7-2 lead. A poorly executed drop shot saw her conceding a point before another fierce body smash had her 8-3 up. Only errors from Marin kept her opponent alive in the game before she wrapped up the second game 11-7.
In the deciding game, Marin took a 6-4 lead. However, the Korean clawed back and caught up with the Spaniard at 7-7. The momentum shifted with every point until the scoreline stood at 12-12. However, a mistake from Marin left her trailing 12-13. Facing defeat, Marin curbed her attacking instinct to play the match’s longest rally. However, another mistake meant Ji Hyun had won the match.
“It was a good game but I made a lot of silly mistakes at the end,” Marin admitted later.
The world No 2 did not let the defeat bring her down, as she became the team’s biggest cheerleader screaming her heart out and being the first Hyderabad player on their toes in jubilation at every point her teammates Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Hoi Wah Chau won against Yong Dae Lee and Nadiezda Zieba in the crucial mixed doubles match which was Mumbai’s trump match. Mumbai lost that match to hand Hyderabad a 2-1 lead.
“Marin kept screaming at us to keep our focus after her game. She kept saying how we were doing really well,” Satwiksairaj said.
However, HS Prannoy emerged 11-6, 11-7 victorious over Sameer Verma, which turned around the tie and handed the hosts 2-1 victory.