P V Sindhu’s glorious run in the World Badminton Championships ended in the semi-finals, when she was beaten by Thailand's Ratchanok Intanon at the Tianhe Indoor stadium in Guangzhou, China, on Saturday.
The 18-year-old Hyderabadi, who toppled former world No. 1 Shixian Wang in straight games in Friday’s quarter-finals, failed to reproduce the form she displayed in the earlier rounds and lost 10-21, 13-21 in 36 minutes.
Intanon, who is also 18 years of age, had thrashed Sindhu 21-12, 21-6 in their only meeting at the Indian Open in April.
It is only the third instance that India will return from the World Championships with a medal. Prakash Padukone also won a men's singles bronze at the Copenhagen championships in 1983, while Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnapa teamed up in 2011 before losing in the semis.
Intanon won the India Open in New Delhi and Thailand Open Grand Prix Gold earlier this year. She is also a three-time World junior championship gold-medallist and silver medallist from the 2010 Asian Games.
World No 12 Sindhu, who upset defending champion Yihan Wang of China in the pre-quarter-finals, committed too many errors as the Thai shuttler mixed her strokes well. Intanon called the shots from the start and allowed Sindhu just four points before crossing over after reaching 11 in the first game.
The Thai opened then up a ten-point lead after racing to 19-10 and took the first game when Sindhu hit wide.
The Indian was at the receiving end in the second game too as Intanon opened up an 8-1 lead. Though Sindhu did well in scoring some points at the net to reduce the deficit to 5-10, another error from her allowed Intanon to cross over at 11-5.
With the advantage on her side, the Thai, thereafter, intelligently tossed the ‘bird’ and pinned Sindhu to the rear.
At 19-12 it was all over for the Indian. Though she went on to save a match-point, Intanon finished off the match with a high smash.
Image: P V Sindhu
Photograph: Victor Fraile/Getty Images