Thu, Nov 15, 2018 - Page 16 News List

Sindhu eyes Tai Tzu-ying’s No. 1 spot

AFP, HONG KONG

Indian badminton star P.V. Sindhu yesterday set her sights on reaching world No. 1 after she shook off opening-match nerves to reach the last 16 at the Hong Kong Open.

Last year’s runner-up and current world No. 3 needed a mid-match pep talk from her coaches before beating Thailand’s Nitchaon Jindapol 21-15, 13-21, 21-17.

Afterward, Sindhu, who has been one of the world’s highest-paid female athletes since winning Olympic silver in 2016, told reporters she had her eye on the top spot.

“It’s not going to be easy because there are some players who are coming up, but definitely one day I will be world No. 1, that’s what I feel,” said Sindhu, who was briefly ranked second last month.

Sindhu, 23, narrowly lost last year’s Hong Kong final to Taiwan’s world No. 1 Tai Tzu-ying, who has dominated the rankings over the past two seasons.

Sindhu has had a string of disappointments since, losing five straight finals against Tai.

Sindhu’s last victory against Tai was at the Rio Olympics en route to the silver medal that brought a flood of endorsements.

In August, Forbes rated her as the world’s seventh-highest paid sportswoman.

She said her elevation and high profile had inspired other players in India and raised expectations about her performances.

“A lot of them have been taking me for inspiration, and there are also a lot of expectations now after this year especially. So to meet their expectations I need to be there and I need to keep working hard,” she said.

Also yesterday, fourth seed Chen Yufei crashed out of the tournament 21-14, 10-21, 20-22 after surrendering her early advantage against 24th-ranked Pornpawee Chochuwong.

Chen’s first loss to the Thai in six encounters was overshadowed by a vocal match on the next court, where men’s double sixth seeds Kim Astrup and Anders Rasmussen fought off a spirited challenge from Lu Ching-yao and Yang Po-han.

The energetic Taiwanese duo earned the crowd’s favor against the Danes, who recovered from a drawn-out first game loss to triumph 28-30, 21-19, 21-16 in 76 minutes.

Tai yesterday won her first match of the tournament against Hong Kong’s Yip Pui-yin 16-21, 21-8, 21-14 in 45 minutes.

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