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BWF World Tour Finals: Tactical Red Flags as PV Sindhu Loses Again to An Se-young

PV Sindhu lost in straight games to An Se-young in the final of the BWF World Tour Finals, her third consecutive loss to the Korean teenager.
PV Sindhu and An Se-young at the BWF World Tour Finals podium

PV Sindhu and An Se-young at the podium of the BWF World Tour Finals in Bali on Sunday.

PV Sindhu lost to Korea’s An Se-young in the title clash of the BWF World Tour Finals in Bali. Sindhu, the reigning world champion, lost 16-21, 12-21 -- the scoreline a clear indicator of the kind of drubbing that played out on court. 

The Indian was thoroughly outclassed and outpaced by Se-young. Well, outpaced not by sheer pace alone, but by variations in it, that too mid rallies. The Korean was so effective that Sindhu was not settled enough through the match to start banking on her power kills or force the narrative to follow the script the Indian is comfortable with -- the quick exchanges.

What’s more damning is that this was Sindhu’s third straight loss to Se-young, the sixth ranked player in the world. All those losses were in straight games with the 19-year-old Korean showing signs that she possessed the tactical key that can unravel Sindhu’s A game.

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The losses -- at the Indonesia Open and Indonesia Masters last month and the BWF Finals Sunday -- will be something Team Sindhu will be pondering about. It is the off season and Sindhu, and her Korean coach Park Tae Sang will be spending quite a considerable time reviewing the matches and figuring out where exactly things are going wrong against Se-young. 

Sindhu, who was playing in the final of the season-ending tournament for the third time, felt that she lost the momentum early on in the match and could not reel Se-young in after conceding points. 

Sindhu began with a few errors, allowing Se-young to open up a lead. While Sindhu seemed off boil the Korean’s anticipation as well as shots were right on the money. Sindhu did try to test the backhand defense of Se-young, which earned her a string of points to take it to double digits for the Indian. But those points were a tad far between to help Sindhu arrest Se-young’s march.

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“It was a good game. An Se-young is a good player so I don’t think it was going to be easy. I was prepared for a good match,” said the World No. 7 after the title clash.

“From the beginning I should not have given her the lead because in the end I came back covering a few points. It is a bit sad but a lot to learn,” added the 26-year-old who had won the title in 2018. “It has been a good three weeks in Bali. So a lot of positives to take from here and it's time to go back, recover and get prepared for the world championships.”

That, however, was just the story that transpired in the scorecards. The real one transpired across the net, with Se-young taking the pace of the rallies and then stepping it up with deft fakes and flicks in will. Sindhu was clearly trying her best to figure out what was happening. She managed at times, but by then it was too late.

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