Badminton: Gold at last for 'proud' P. V. Sindhu, home crowd help Shi Yuqi stun Kento Momota

India's P.V. Sindhu sealed the championship with a forehand smash in the World Tour Finals on Dec 16, 2018 in Guangzhou, China. She beat Nozomi Okuhara of Japan, last year's world champion, 21-19, 21-17.
India's P.V. Sindhu sealed the championship with a forehand smash in the World Tour Finals on Dec 16, 2018 in Guangzhou, China. She beat Nozomi Okuhara of Japan, last year's world champion, 21-19, 21-17.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

SHANGHAI (AFP) - An emotional P.V. Sindhu finally got her hands on gold at badminton's season-ending World Tour Finals on Sunday (Dec 16) while in the men's decider, China's Shi Yuqi exacted stunning revenge over world No. 1 Kento Momota.

The 23-year-old Indian has suffered a series of near-misses in recent years, winning silver at the 2016 Rio Olympics, and again at the Asian Games and Commonwealth Games this year.

The world No. 6, renowned for her never-say-die attitude, has also twice lost in the final of the World Championships, once to the Japanese, and was runner-up in last year's season finale.

But she put all that heartbreak behind her in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou, beating the fifth-ranked Nozomi Okuhara of Japan 21-19, 21-17 in the women's final in just over an hour.

Sindhu, who was always in control of the match, sealed the championship with a forehand smash, before collapsing to the court floor on her hands and knees, physically and emotionally exhausted.

"I'm really proud, the year has ended on a beautiful note," said Sindhu.

"People have been asking me the same question, I think the question won't come again - asking why I always lose in the final.

"It was good that people were asking me about losing so many finals because I had to ask myself why I was losing.

"Finally I got the answer."

The men's final, a mouthwatering showdown between the two highest-ranked players, was a re-run of the world championship decider in August.


China's Shi Yuqi exacted stunning revenge over world No. 1 Kento Momota in the World Tour Finals on Dec 16. PHOTO: AFP

On that occasion, the 22-year-old Shi - the new star of Chinese men's badminton - was well beaten by Momota in Nanjing.

But roared on by the crowd in Guangzhou, Shi got revenge in emphatic fashion, beating the tournament favourite 21-12, 21-11 in a surprisingly one-sided encounter for the biggest win of his young career.

In all-Chinese mixed doubles final, Wang Yilyu and Huang Dongping outlasted top seeds Zheng Siwei and Huang Yaqiong 23-21, 16-21, 21-18.

The Japanese took four matches to reach the top step of the podium - top seeds Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi beating South Koreans Lee So-hee and Shin Seung-chan 21-12, 22-20 to win the women's doubles.

The host nation won their third title when Li Junhui and Liu Yuchen overwhelmed Japan’s Hiroyuki Endo and Yuta Watanabe 21-15, 21-11 in the men's doubles.