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PV Sindhu falls to Tai Tzu in badminton Worlds quarterfinal


PV Sindhu has a Tai Tzu-Ying problem. Though rediscovering how to beat the Taiwanese might well push Sindhu into all the improvements she undertakes between this 21-17, 21-13 loss in the World Championships quarterfinals and the All England, a title she craves more than any other as 2022 rolls in.

Not at any point in her career has Sindhu allowed a mental demon to build around a particular opponent, as has conjured in the form of Tai. Five losses in the last five face-offs will irritate the Indian, though she gave it her everything at Huelva.

Tai Tzu rained drops around Sindhu on Friday. Used usually as a surprise element, Tai Tzu rubbed salt into wounds by making the stop-drops and slices almost commonplace while still managing to root the Indian to a spot. There was no masking of the action from Tai. Just that Sindhu would get tangled between speeding to retrieve and enforced inertia, unsure of whether to move back or forward. Tai was arresting her momentum, and prosecuting her indecision to score winners.

No plan

Sindhu played a reactive game against Tai Tzu, partially because the Taiwanese has always read her, and on days when she doesn’t spill errors, Sindhu has no way to crack her.

Specific interventions – like booster shots – can work to upset Tai Tzu’s rhythm, but Sindhu gets stuck in sort of a frenzied rut, from where she struggles to come out. Alternatively, Sindhu can smash her way out with a very incisive attack, but if Tai Tzu is not shaken a little, made to think, put off her pace, she settles into her perfect little magnificence of gorgeously deceptive strokes, and can retrieve everything.

Sindhu’s struggled with Plan A in recent times, and has no confidence in a Plan B when she’s kept busy trying to read Tai Tzu’s next tricky bundle. Alongside Marin and Saina Nehwal, Tai Tzu is one player who has accurately figured out Sindhu, and she will, going forward, need to alter her mindset fundamentally while needing on-court improvements, if she has to get past the Taiwanese. An Olympic final and now a Worlds podium are costly stages to lose out on, for want of a strategy. A draw throwing her into the pit against either Marin or Tai Tzu is always imminent. Five losses signal to the drawing board.





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