All England 2021: PV Sindhu bows out in semifinals, loses to Thailand's Pornpawee Chochuwong
India's world champion was aiming to cash in on her improved form and a depleted field in Birmingham due to the pandemic.
Contingents from China, Taiwan and South Korea opted not to travel due to virus restrictions. Olympic champion and top seed Carolina Marin withdrew due to an injury. The Indonesian contingent was forced to pull out after one of their shuttlers tested positive for Covid-19 while the Japanese were out of touch, playing their first tournament in months.
PV Sindhu could not have been presented a better chance to become the third Indian—and the country’s first woman—after Prakash Padukone (1980) and Pullela Gopichand (2001) to win the All England badminton title, especially after finding form with her reaching the Swiss Open final this month.
It was not to be as India’s and Sindhu’s wait continued. The world champion lost
17-21, 9-21 to rising Thai shuttler Pornpawee Chochuwong in a 45-minute semi-final at Birmingham’s Utilita Arena on Saturday.
“Everybody aims to be in the final,” Sindhu said after the loss. “It’s over for now, so I have to learn from my mistakes and take the positives. I don’t have a tournament for another month so I have time to prepare and come back stronger.”
Despite starting strongly, Sindhu’s challenge fizzled out midway through the first game when the sixth-seeded Thai took a 14-7 lead. Sindhu pushed Chochuwong to the back of the court which paid dividends as the Indian fought back to 16-17. But a sudden surge by the Thai, who has been in sensational form this year, saw her churn winners from even her defensive strokes to clinch the first game in 24 minutes.
Sindhu was up against it when Chochuwong led 11-4 in the second game. Whether she was drained after Friday’s scintillating come-from-behind quarter-final victory against Japanese third seed Akane Yamaguchi (16-21, 21-16, 21-19 in an hour and 16 minutes) or it was her error-strewn game, aggravated by wrong line calls, the 25-year-old appeared to lose intensity with a look of despondency creeping in.
The 23-year-old Thai had brought her A-game. Sharp reaction backed by terrific defence to retrieve the shuttle from near impossible situations and a rubbery wrist that helped create incredible angles, the world No.11’s agility caught Sindhu off guard. Chochuwong had fresher legs having spent only 38 minutes on court on Friday. She reached the net to close out points at will, quelling Sindhu’s power game.
“It was a good start; after my three-point lead she went ahead. It was her day, everything she was hitting was on the line, I just couldn’t do anything about it. Overall, I should’ve controlled my unforced errors, maybe things could’ve been different then,” said Sindhu. “I knew it was going to be a good match. She’s not an easy player and is doing well. Her strokes are really good and she’s going to be a really good player.”