World champion P V Sindhu crashed out of the Korea Open badminton tournament after a three-game defeat in the first round while B Sai Praneeth retired hurt in his men's singles opener in Incheon on Wednesday. Sindhu lost 7-21 24-22 15-21 to Beiwen Zhang of United States in a match that lasted 56 minutes while World Championships bronze-medallst Sai Praneeth was trailing 9-21 7-11 when he conceded the match to fifth-seeded Anders Antonsen of Denmark due to an unspecified injury. After the high of winning the World Championships, Olympic silver-medallist Sindhu was knocked out of the China Open Super 1000 event by Thailand's Pornpawee Chochuwong in the second round last week. Interestingly, the 26-year-old former winner here had defeated Zhang en route her World Championships gold at Basel. The Chinese-born American prevailed over the Indian twice last year at the India Open and Denmark Open.
Besides the World Championships final, Sindhu has reached the summit clash of only one BWF World Tour Final this year -- the Indonesia Open Super 1000 -- but the title eluded her. London Olympics bronze medallist Saina Nehwal, who had claimed the Indonesia Masters early in the season, hasn't looked her usual self this year. Saina, who has been bothered by pancreatitis and few injuries, lost in the first round of Malaysia Open, New Zealand Open, Sudirman Cup and China Open.
Sindhu, who has been nominated for the Padma Bhushan, had said that the World Badminton Championship win takes care of all the previous losses. However, she is still keen on winning the gold medal in the Olympics and she has used a special provision to ensure she remains motivated.
"There is a vacant space (laughs) in my cabinet for that gold. The Olympic qualification is on and this win will give me the confidence to go further. It (World Championships gold) takes care of all those losses. People have been talking about my final phobia, how I take pressure in the finals and I can say I gave the answer with my racquet. But Olympics is a completely different feeling. Rio (Games) and World Championship gave me different memories, but, yeah, one gold medal is missing, so definitely I will work hard for that and would love to see myself win that Olympic gold at Tokyo," Sindhu said in an interaction with PTI.