They were both disappointed. Their distraught faces showed how badly they wanted to play the final of a Super Series event at home. Their dreams were squashed in the semifinals on Saturday.
Anand Pawar's previous best finish in a tournament of this stature was a quarterfinal. "Yeah, it felt good to go one further," he said. Going into the India Open ranked 53 in the world, Pawar had ousted the third seed in the second round. The 26-year-old then had a solid quarter-final against good friend Ajay Jayaram. So, expectations ran high when he faced Japan's Kenichi Tago in the semifinal even though he had lost to the world No 9 before. He gave his all, but it wasn't good enough.
After slaying the Saina Nehwal-slayer, fans who thronged to Siri Fort, were expecting 17-year-old PV Sindhu to do a miracle. After all, since the tournament became a part of the Super Series, no Indian has made it to the final in any of the five categories. It stayed that way. Her opponent Ratchanok Intanon (18) was a class apart. The world No. 6 Thai simply toyed with Sindhu, letting the Pulella Gopichand trainee make the errors. "There were just too many negatives," Sindhu said.
Pawar, who recently shifted base to Mumbai from Denmark, wished he had done his homework. "I expected similar conditions like the previous days. Today, however, the shuttle was very slow which hampered play. It took me the first 11 points just to realise that!" he said. The Indian lost 16-21, 11-21 in 44 minutes. Tago, who set up a final clash against top seed Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia, summed up Pawar's performance. "He just made too many errors."
Sindhu flies off to Malaysia for the Grand Prix Gold tournament next week where she's top seed. Was there too much pressure playing at home?
"No it wasn't that. I simply didn't play well," she said after the 12-21, 6-21 loss.