Bellaetrix Manuputty is ranked No. 24 in the world, which is 13 places behind PV Sindhu. The Indian towers over the Indonesian in height. Manuputty is petite and there is no one particular stroke which she owns that stands out. Against an aggressive player like Sindhu, she was the underdog in the second singles at the Siri Fort.
But Sindhu’s take-away from perhaps the longest match of her career till date, will remain lessons in stoicism against a wily opponent who tested her mental strength with every trick in the book. It was the spirit of Sindhu’s 16-21, 21-10, 23-25 victory snatched after a 1 hour 24 minute battle, that paved the way for India’s maiden entry into the semifinals of the Uber Cup, assuring the hosts of a bronze medal.
India will now play Japan on Friday for a place in the finals. If today’s showing is anything to go by, the hosts may extend their stay in the tournament.
Saina Nehwal had wrapped up the first tie in India’s favour by beating Lindaweni Fanetri 21-17, 21-10. And it was her younger compatriot Sindhu’s turn to get past the lower-ranked player and put India in a commanding position.
Sindhu took the first game 21-16 but in the second she allowed the Indonesian to come back into the match with a string of errors as she tried to rush through points early. Manuputty winning the second game 21-10, in spite of what the scoreline suggests, ought to have been no reason to panic for the Indian camp.
But the clever Indonesian made up for what she lacked in powerful strokes by adopting a strategy that would frustrate Sindhu in the third game.
In simple terms it was a time-wasting tactic. Manuputty first started indicating that her hamstring was troubling her early in the third game.
The Indonesian was tiring but she could still stay in the game because the shuttles were slower in the air on Thursday. Using every ounce of energy left in her, Manuputty further slowed down the game by engaging Sindhu in long rallies — a natural irritant for an aggressive player like her. While Sindhu can dribble and play smartly at the net, it is an aspect of her game that is still strictly developing.
The Indonesian attempted to force Sindhu into a net game and when Sindhu pushed the shuttle to the back of the court, Manupatty cut out the risks and played a safe game also denying the Indian anything to work with.
The longer the points got, the more frustrated Sindhu became as she was not able to finish off rallies as quickly as she wanted.
What further irritated the World No.11 Indian was that Manuputty was taking an eternity to get back into continued…