Olympic gold medallist Carolina Marin reasserted her superiority over silver medallist P. V. Sindhu as she beat her in the Premier Badminton League opener that was reminiscent of their Rio Olympics final. The Spaniard edged ahead in the first game, lost her way in the second and then went full throttle in the decider to post a 11-8, 12-14, 11-2 win for the Hyderabad Hunters against Chennai Smashers that sent the boisterous home crowd into raptures at the Gachibowli Stadium here on Sunday evening.
Later, the men’s doubles pair of Tan Boon Heong Tan and Tan Wee Kiong defeated Mads Pieler Kolding and B. Sumeeth Reddy 11-7, 11-8 in the last and trump match to win the tie 4-3 for Hyderabad.The high-profile women’s singles match provided a fitting start to the glitzy tournament that witnessed a tremendous turnout. Ironically, Hyderabad girl Sindhu, who turned up for Chennai, did not quite find the support, which was overwhelmingly in Marin’s favour going by the deafening decibel levels.Both players traded points in the first game until Marin clinched it at 11-8.
She continued her form in the second to race to a 5-2 lead before Sindhu drew level and then pulled ahead. Marin kept the fight up and held four game/ match points but could not convert them. Sindhu came up with some sharp smashes but also hit the shuttle into the net as nerves began to show. However, Marin too erred on a couple of occasions to let Sindhu level the match score.
Marin came swinging in the third game and raced to a 5-0 lead but not before she was engaged in an entertaining rally at 4-0 that witnessed acutely angled smashes, deft drops and timely lobs. Sindhu found the gap too wide to bridge and went down rather tamely at 2 as Marin sealed it with her signature fist pump and scream that drove the home crowd wild.
“Winning the first match was crucial and I am glad I got my team off to a good start. The support from the crowd was amazing. Let’s go Hyderabad Hunters,” she pepped up the supporters after the match.Marin revealed she capitalised on Sindhu’s nerves in the third game. “She was really nervous and I tried to push her and pile pressure,” she said. Sindhu was not fazed though. “The best is yet to come,” she said of her team.
Speaking about the shortened format, Marin said: “The 11-point format leaves you with very little. You have to do your best to begin well and stay in control of the match.”
Hyderabad Hunters bt Chennai Smashers 4-3 (Carolina Marin bt P. V. Sindhu 11-8, 12-14, 11-2; B. Sai Praneeth lost to Tommy Sugiarto 6-11, 8-11; Chau Hoi Wah/ Satwik Sai Raj lost to Chris Adcock/ Gabrielle Adcock 7-11, 9-11; Rajiv Ouseph bt Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk 6-11, 11-8, 11-6; Boon Heung Tan/ Wee Kiong Tan bt Mads Pieler Kolding/ B. Sumeeth Reddy 11-7, 11-8).