February 2018
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India Open: Sindhu settles for silver, loses to Zhang in final
(New Delhi, Feb 05, 2018 ): Defending champion PV Sindhu failed to retain the title as she went down fighting against world No. 11 Beiwen Zhang of USA in the summit clash of India Open Super 500 at Siri Fort Complex in Delhi on Sunday.

Sindhu lost the final in three games 18-21, 21-11, 20-22 in one hour and nine minutes. It is the first major title for the fifth seed American.

The contest started on even terms with both the players exchanging points regularly to be at 5-5 early in the first game. Sindhu raced ahead for a while to take a 11-9 lead at the mid-game break. The top seed maintained the lead till 15-14 before fifth seed Zhang took advantage of the Indian's unforced errors to put herself in the lead.

Zhang continued the good work and gave little chance to Sindhu to bounce back as she wrapped up the first game 21-18 in 22 minutes.

The second game too started similarly with the duo fighting hard for each point, before Sindhu surged ahead after 2-2 scoreline. With six consecutive points, Sindhu shifted the momentum to take 8-2 lead and went into break at 11-4.

After the break, Zhang reduced the gap to four points and made it 8-12, before Sindhu came up with back-to-back body smashes to stop the trend. But Sindhu gave away an easy point soon by misjudging the line as the score read 13-10. Another acute-angled smash strectched Sindhu's lead to five points, 15-10, giving the world No. 4 Indian some much needed room. Soon it became 18-10 in favour of Sindhu as she won the second game 21-11 and forced the contest to third.

Sindhu raced to 2-0 lead early in the decider, before Zhang clawed back to make it 3-3. Then the American raced to 9-4 lead, after winning six consecutive points, but Sindhu bounced back to make it 9-10 but went into the final mid-game break trailing 9-11.

Sindhu continued the momentum shift to level the decider 11-11 after the break. With both players visibly tired, the serves changed hand regularly and with it the points too, 15-15. The matched started slipping from Sindhu's hand as Zhang won three successive points to lead the decider 17-15. But the match was not over yet, as Sindhu reduced the gap to one point, 18-19, with some smart court play. A body smash from the net took Sindhu to 19-19 and then to match point soon afterward, before Zhang levelled it 20-20.

A cross-court smash gave Zhang the all important match point and she made it count by winning the deciding game 22-20.

"I had nothing to lose and pressure was on Sindhu. I played a lot of smashes and an attacking game which I generally don't. This is my first major title and I am really happy. I guess it is the best moment of my career," Zhang said after the match.

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