P V Sindhu on Saturday suffered a heartbreak at the World Badminton Championship as the Indian shuttler had to settle for a second consecutive bronze medal after succumbing to Carolina Marin of Spain in straight games at the semifinals in Copenhagen on Saturday.
Sindhu, seeded 11th, failed in her bid to become the first Indian women shuttler to reach the finals of the World Championship as her battle against ninth seeded opponent ended with a 17-21 15-21 loss at the Ballerup Super Arena.
A bronze medallist at the last edition, Sindhu had conjured up hopes of bettering the colour of her medal this year but she could not produce the same resilence and grit which saw her edged out sixth seed Korean Yeon Ju Bae and All England Champion Shixian Wang in the last two rounds.
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Playing only her second World Championship, Sindhu, who won a bronze at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow early this month, could not find a way out of the long fast-paced rallies played by the left-handed Marin.
The 19-year-old thus became the first badminton player to win two bronze medals at the World Championship. Badminton Legend Prakash Padukone had won the men’s singles bronze in 1983, while Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa won bronze in women’s doubles in 2011.
Sindhu, who won two grand Prix Gold titles at Malaysia and Macau last year, had finished at the semifinals of 2012 China Super Series Premier, besides ending in the last four at the 2010 and 2013 India Super Series.
The 21-year-old Marin, who ended her Spain’s long wait for a first badminton world championship medal yesterday, set up a final showdown with Olympic Champion and top seed Li Xuerui on Sunday.
In the semifinal match, Marin created some sharp angled strokes and picked up gaps at will while Sindhu, likely feeling the effects of successive gruelling three-set matches, could not find her rhythm and though she clawed back several times it was the ever-alert Spaniard who had the last laugh.
Sindhu faltered at the nets early on to allow Marin lead 4-1 initially but the Indian soon got her act together to lead 8-6 with a six-point burst.
Marin, who let out a wild scream every time she won a point, picked up points with her delectable drops and sharp smashes to once again wrest back control at 10-9.
Though Sindhu gained a point but Marin moved into the break with a slender 11-10 lead with a return that just made the baseline.
World No. 10 Marin, the reigning European Champion, reeled off five straight quick points to widen the gap. A gritty Sindhu kept fighting to narrow the gap to 16-19 but she found the nets again to give four-game point cushion to Marin.
The Indian saved one but could not connect a shot next to hand over the advantage to her rival. The frustration of losing the first game was evident as Sindhu threw her racquet in the air.
In the second game, Sindhu once again was lagging behind early on at 3-5. The Indian managed to claw back at 5-5 but she could not gain a healthy lead as Marin kept coming back to move neck and neck till 9-9 before Sindhu managed to move into the interval with a 11-9 lead.
However, Marin came back once again to not only erase the deficit but lead 15-13 with some delightful strokes. Her sharp strokes and alertness wore down Sindhu as Marin soon zoomed to 19-14.
A shot gone long earned Sindhu a point but Marin soon set up the five match point chance with a lovely net-exchange and then closed the door on Sindhu with another aggressive rally to enter the finals.