It turned out to be a Super Sunday for Indian badminton fans with star shuttler PV Sindhu clinching the China Open Superseries Premier in Fuzhou. Three months after her historic silver medal winning campaign at the 2016 Rio Olympics, the 21-year-old backs it up by winning her maiden Superseries title with a 21-11, 17-21, 21-11 win over the eighth seed and local hope Sun Yu in 1 hour 9 minutes.
This is also her second title of the year after having begun the 2016 season with the Malaysia Masters crown.
With this, the China Open Superseries Premier continues to be India’s happy hunting ground. In 2014, Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth made history by bringing home double glory. Saina followed it up by making it to the final yet again in 2015 and now the 11th ranked Sindhu adds her name to the list of winners as well.
This was the second time that the Pullela Gopichand protégé reached a Superseries final after succumbing in the Denmark Open summit clash last year.
Third ever non-Chinese women’s singles winner in China Open history
For Sindhu, it wasn’t an easy task. She was facing one of China’s most promising players at home and she needed to battle both the World No. 9 Sun and the crowd for the win.
In the first game, however, it was all Sindhu. She hardly ever gave the 22-year-old a chance to settle in the match and the Chinese continued to struggle with errors. Looking thoroughly determined and confident, the Indian surged to 11-5 at the interval, looking every bit the player who won the Olympic medal.
There was no stutter or stumble that was visible during her second round match or her semi-final match both of which she won in three games.
Sindhu continued to dominate in the same fashion even after the interval and quickly grabbed the opening game, 21-11 as the stunned Chinese crowd watched in silence.
If Sun Yu wanted to stretch the match into a decider, she very much needed the crowd to pump her up. Sensing their girl needed support, they did exactly that to lift her spirits.
Trying her best to move the Indian around the court by alternating between side-to-side shots and down-the-line shots, the eighth seed hoped to throw the Indian off her rhythm. Sun also made a conscious effort to cut down on her errors and the strategy worked in her favour.
She levelled the game 6-6 after coming back from 3-5 down.
However, a grave mistake on her part and a subsequent lapse in concentration cost her a flurry of points soon after. At 7-8, she touched the tape even before the rally got over. The point was rightly given to the Indian and the seventh seed went into the interval, leading 11-7.
On resumption, the rejuvenated Sun came back and started incorporating more variety into her game. The sudden show of confidence from her surprised Sindhu, who lost her advantage to trail behind, 14-16 as the Chinese won six points on the trot.
With the raucous crowd very much into it, Sun soared to take the second game 21-17.
In the decider, Sindhu was able to push back the setback quickly and focused fully on getting the job done. The Chinese was able to keep things pretty competitive till 6-6 after which the Indian started asserting herself.
By varying the height of the shuttle and using her body shots judiciously, she was able to subdue the Chinese to surge ahead to 9-6 and then 11-8. She kept on increasing the gap that made life difficult for the local player who could not find her way back anymore.
From 15-9, she went up 19-10 with some blazing winners punctuated by exquisite touch at the net before wrapping it up 21-11.
Sindhu thus engraves her name in record books as the third ever non-Chinese player to win the women’s singles crown in the 30-year history of the China Open.