P V Sindhu suffered a shocking loss to Sung Ji Hyun but defending champions Hyderabad Hunters still looked on course for a win with a 3-1 lead over Chennai Smashers in the Premier Badminton League on Tuesday.
In the women’s singles match, Ji Hyun Sung got the better of Olympic and World Championship silver medallist Sindhu 15-13 14-15 15-7.
Hyderabad, who began their campaign with a sweep against newcomers Pune 7 Aces on the opening day in Mumbai, were five points away from their first defeat on their own trump before Kim Sa Rang and Bodin Isara summoned all their guile and experience to turn the tables on B Sumeeth Reddy and Chin Chung Or. They won 13-15 15-12 15-10 and gave their team two crucial points.
Having lost the opening game, Kim and Isara were trailing 4-10 in the second and looked lost against the aggressive approach from the Chennai Smashers men’s doubles pair.
But it was the sheer experience of the South Korean-Thai pair that allowed them to not just overcome the opponents but also difficult court conditions with quick flat strokes to first force a decider and then wrap the match.
Lee Hyun Il, the 38-year-old veteran from South Korea, then gave a few lessons to Chong Wei Feng, winning 15-11 15-13.
The battle of the two left-handers saw quite a few rallies played from the back of the court and every time it felt like the Chennai Smashers shuttler was looking to make a comeback, the experienced South Korean turned things around.
The victory set up yet another opportunity for the BWF World Tour Finals champion Sindhu to wrap up the tie by giving her team an unassailable lead but the 23-year-old just could not find the rhythm that saw her beat Carolina Marin on the opening day.
Chennai Smashers icon player Sung Ji Hyun made the most of Sindhu’s struggles with the conditions by concentrating on keeping the shuttle in play and force the world number three into making a plethora of unforced errors.
To her credit, Sindhu refused to give up despite chasing the match since she led 8-5 in the opening game. She simply lost momentum after that to lose the game 13-15.
The Indian was trailing for most part of the second game before taking the lead at 10-9 for the first time and forced the decider after winning the game on the deciding point.
She, however, again struggled to find her rhythm in the third and final game as Sung changed ends leading 8-3 and then wrapped up the match 15-13, 14-15, 15-7 to keep the Smashers alive in the tie with two more matches to play.
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