For the second time in the match, Sung Ji Hyun stood with her hands resting on her hips; bent, visibly distraught. It was the second rally she had botched up. In stark contrast to PV Sindhu's attacking play, Ji Hyun, turning out for Mumbai Rockets, is known to build her points meticulously but Tuesday was all about the Indian's whiplash smashes. Nothing else seemed to be working. Sindhu won 11-8, 12-10.
Chennai Smashers' Sindhu raced to a 3-1 lead early on before putting away an incredible angular crosscourt shot to go up 7-6. Unlike their styles of play, Ji Hyun and Sindhu share parallels in their sport lineage. While Sindhu was born to volleyball parents, Ji Hyun, who is ranked No 3 in the world, happens to be the daughter of one of South Korea's most celebrated badminton couples. Her mother Kim Yun Ja won the All England title in both singles and doubles while her father Sung Han Kook was the country's first singles star. As a kid though, Ji Hyun ran away from home. To play badminton against her mother's wishes.
An exasperated Ji Hyun, who beat Sindhu in the semis of the BWF Dubai Superseries Finals in December last year, was up against an unabashedly partisan crowd and a marauding Indian. Betraying no emotion, the Korean was left to wipe beads of sweat off her face with Sindhu's screams turning shriller with every point.
Heading into the break in the second game leading 6-3 after dispatching a steep smash out of a lunging Ji Hyun's reach, Sindhu allowed a couple of errors to creep into her game, narrowing the lead 8-6. A delightful backhand volley followed by a beautiful cross court smash which landed plum on the line, allowed the Korean to draw even at 10-10. Cheers in the stands had turned into screams now.
Sindhu, waited for the serve, her non-racquet bearing left hand bent at the elbow, thrust forward in a posture of concentration. As Ji Hyun tossed the bird in the air, the stands hushed themselves up. Bringing her racquet to bear, she tossed a forehand into the net. 10-11. Sindhu screamed like a maniac. A weary Ji Hyun return which ballooned wide was all that the Indian needed to walk away content at having exacted her revenge.