Olympic gold medallist Carolina Marin kicked off her New Year in style as she overcame a spirited PV Sindhu 11-8, 12-14, 11-2 to win the inaugural match of the Premier Badminton League for Hyderabad Hunters in Hyderabad on Sunday. (PBL 2017 FULL SCHEDULE)
It was a spirited performance from the Spanish southpaw who dominated the game from the very beginning and with her powerful smashes and deceptions at the net, was too hot to handle for Sindhu, representing Chennai Smashers. Marin led 6-4 at the halfway mark of the first game and won it 11-8 with Sindhu’s smash crashing at the net. The crowd went silent for a while for their local star but came roaring back as they realised the home team had a game to cheer for.
The second set was a far more competitive encounter between the two with Sindhu and Marin both raring to go for every point. Marin took an early lead at 3-0 but Sindhu wasn’t willing to go down without a fight and pulled things back in her favour as they headed into the break at 6-5.
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A challenge in the next point also went in her favour as she registered five consecutive points and looked on course to take the set to the third set. However, eight points later, it was Sindhu who had to save a match point against Marin who had her smash end on the net. A cross-court jump smash, followed by another then saw the Indian level scores at 12-12 before two consecutive unforced errors sealed the game in Sindhu’s favour.
The third game was a lopsided contest between the two heavyweights and Marin completely outplayed Sindhu. The pressure was vivid on Sindhu’s face, who in front of a packed home crowd, had to try and perform to her repute. The fourth point of the game was however the highlight of the day with the two involved in a riveting 52-shot rally, which ended in favour of the former World No. 1.
“We were both nervous as it was the first match of the PBL and there were so many people who were backing us but I’m really happy with my performance and to win the first game for Hyderabad Hunters,” an elated Marin said after the match.
Marin, who had lost her last encounter against Sindhu in Dubai earlier this month, said she felt the crowd pressure got to Sindhu towards the end of the match. “I just wanted to focus on my game and the strategies but I think Sindhu was nervous as she was playing in front of her home crowd,” Marin added. “I was really impressed with my game as this was the first time I was playing in such a format. I think one has to dominate the game from the very start and stick to it throughout the game.”