PV Sindhu finally managed to get over her struggles earlier in the year and blaze through the rounds to the final of Indonesia Open Super 1000 event of BWF World Tour. But, unfortunately, for the Indian, she ran into a determined and focused Akane Yamaguchi to lose the match 21-15, 21-16.
Most fans would not be too disheartened by this result as the 24-year old shuttler seems to have regained her form and despite this loss, looking much better than she did earlier in the year. With the BWF World Championship set to take place in August, Indians would hope that she brings her A-game in the major event, as she usually does, and becomes the first Indian since Prakash Padukone to claim the world title.
But this loss is still disappointing as it continues her lean run in BWF World Tour events. Except for the World Tour Finals last year, which is in a different format, she hasn't won an Open tournament since 2017. After her brilliant showing against Nozomi Okuhara and Chen Yufei in the quarter and semi final respectively, this loss is certainly a setback.
Let's look at the three biggest causes for her defeat.
The indefatigable spirit of Yamaguchi
The Japanese are known to be tough in sports. Nobody embodies this more than Yamaguchi. Despite being short in stature, her perseverance and tenacity makes her one of the best players. Sindhu knows this well, having played her on many occasions, including the Tour Finals of the last two years. In this match also, the Japanese girl showed that fighting spirt and didn't let Sindhu earn any easy points. While Yufei fell apart in the semi-final after Sindhu's ascendancy, Yamaguchi fought and fought until she got the desired results. Despite the fact that Sindhu's long reach nullifies the drop shots of her, Yamaguchi's persistence proved too hot to handle for the Olympic silver medalist. The longest rally of the match lasted for 51 shots while there was another one which contained 45. It was this unbeatable spirit of Yamaguchi which played a huge role in her win.
One of the most impressive things about Sindhu's victory over Chen Yufei was her net play. She was never bested in the exchange of net shots and even scored some points with them. But Yamaguchi turned out to be the better net player in the final. She overcame the height difference and countered Sindhu successfully every time she came to the net. This reduced the scope for Sindhu's offence and was another factor in the triumph of the Japanese lady.
Attack, Attack, Attack
Lastly, the main contributing factor to Pusarla's loss was a great tactical decision made by Yamaguchi to go on the offensive and attack Sindhu by coming forward and delivering smashes at the first opportunity in rallies. This proved to be the clincher as Sindhu had no answer to the barrage of aggressive shots coming her way. She was left surviving in the rallies most of the time as her opponent went for the kill. The fact that Yamaguchi had the tenacity to soak attacks from the other side meant that Sindhu couldn't succeed at the same tactic.