Sindhu ends wait for title, Shi stuns Momota

The year ends on a beautiful note for perennial runner-up P.V. Sindhu of India, who beat Japan's Nozomi Okuhara 21-19, 21-17 in the women's singles final at the BWF World Tour Finals in Guangzhou yesterday.
The year ends on a beautiful note for perennial runner-up P.V. Sindhu of India, who beat Japan's Nozomi Okuhara 21-19, 21-17 in the women's singles final at the BWF World Tour Finals in Guangzhou yesterday.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

GUANGZHOU • An emotional P.V. Sindhu finally shed her bridesmaid's tag at badminton's season-ending World Tour Finals yesterday while China's Shi Yuqi exacted stunning revenge over world No. 1 Kento Momota in the men's decider.

Indian shuttler Sindhu has suffered a series of near-misses in recent years, finishing second 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 and was runner-up in last year's season finale.

But she put all that heartbreak behind her in the 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 the 23-year-old Sindhu.

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

"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."

With qualification for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics on the horizon next year, Sindhu said she would sit down with her coach and plan out the year ahead.

"Next year, I think it will be the Olympic qualification year so we have to be fit and strategise and know what tournaments to play, we need to discuss and think about it."

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

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

But, roared on by the crowd in Guangzhou, Shi got revenge in emphatic fashion, beating the tournament favourite 21-12, 21-11 in 49 minutes in a surprisingly one-sided encounter for the biggest win of his young career.

It was Shi's first win over the 24-year-old Momota in three meetings and his third title of the season after triumphs at the All England Open and the India Open.

"I'm thrilled as I'd never beaten Momota and to do it on this stage is very special," said Shi.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 17, 2018, with the headline 'Sindhu ends wait for title, Shi stuns Momota'. Print Edition | Subscribe