Bangkok, Jan 27: Star Indian shuttlers PV Sindhu and Kidambi Srikanth fought their hearts out before suffering close defeats in their respective group ‘B’ openers at the USD 1.5 million HSBC BWF World Tour Finals here on Wednesday.

A week after a demoralising defeat at the Toyota Thailand Open quarterfinals, World champion Sindhu produced a much-improved performance but still lost to world number one Tai Tzu Ying of Taiwan 21-19, 12-21, 17-21.

“It was a good match, there were no easy points. In the third game I came back and it was just one point difference at one stage. I broke my racket strings twice (during rallies) and that made a difference,” Sindhu said.

“It’s a tough group. I have to give 100 per cent.”

It was Sindhu’s 16th defeat to Tzu Ying in 21 meetings.

Former World No. 1 Srikanth too squandered an opening game advantage, losing 21-15, 16-21, 18-21 to World No. 3 Anders Antonsen of Denmark in a gruelling 77-minute contest.

Olympic silver medallist Sindhu, who had won the prestigious title in 2018, will next play home favourites Ratchanok Intanon, who had handed her a humiliating defeat last week, while Srikanth, ranked 14th, will face fourth seed Wang Tzu Wei of Chinese Taipei on Thursday.

In the women’s singles, the opening game was a close fight as Sindhu and Tzu Ying engaged in an enticing battle.

Tzu Ying led 5-3 early on before grabbing a 11-8 advantage at the interval as Sindhu lost a few points on the net.

After the break, Tzu Ying jumped to a 14-10 lead with Sindhu making an error in her judgement at backline and also the Taiwanese producing a backhand cross court return.

Sindhu drew parity at 16-16 with a run of points, highlighted by a crisp cross court slice and a backhand return.

Tzu Ying again moved ahead but two precise smashes helped the Indian make it 19-19 as she grabbed the game point with another precise return that kissed the backline.

Sindhu then played a cross court return at the net which her opponent couldn’t reach, gaining the upper hand in the match.

Tzu Ying zoomed to a 6-0 lead in the second game. Sindhu managed to reduce the deficit to 3-7 before the Taiwanese unleased a couple of drops and a smash to make it 9-4.

Two unforced errors from Sindhu handed an 11-4 advantage to her rival at the break. Tzu Ying continued to dominate to move to 19-9 before winning the second game with a cross court return.

In the decider, Tzu Ying again led 6-3 but she stumbled to defensive errors as Sindhu levelled the score with a smash.

However, the second seeded Taiwanese held a 11-9 lead at the break after Sindhu made another error at the backline. – PTI