India made a losing start to their 2023 Sudirman Cup campaign, going down by a 1-4 scoreline to the formidable Chinese Taipei contingent in the opening round in Suzhou, China on Sunday.
There was, however, no lack of fight from the Indian players as Tanisha Crasto and K Sai Prateek started on a positive note in the mixed doubles contest but ran out of steam in the end, losing 21-18 24-26 6-21 to world no. 30 Yang Po-Hsuan and Hu Ling Fang.
World Number 9 HS Prannoy then couldn't find his 'A' game, going down 19-21 15-21 to world no. 5 Chou Tien Chen as India trailed 0-2 after the first two matches.
Sindhu was then handed the responsibility to bring India back into the tie, but it was always going to be a tough task with her nemesis and former world no. 1 Tai Tzu Ying standing across the net.
The 27-year-old from Hyderabad, who hasn't been in the best of form lately, produced a gritty performance after the opening game reversal but couldn't go the distance with Tai Tzu managing a 21-14 18-21 21-17 win in an hour and four minutes.
It allowed Chinese Taipei to take an unassailable 3-0 lead in the five-match tie. Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty played out the inconsequential men's doubles tie, losing to Lee Yang and Ye Hong Wei by a 13-21 21-17 18-21 scoreline in a little over an hour.
Treesa Jolly and P Gayatri Gopichand staged a marvellous comeback in the women's doubles tie against Lee Chia Hsin and Teng Chun Hsun, thus helping India avoid a whitewash with a 15-21 21-18 21-13 victory.
The last time Sindhu had beaten Tai Tzu was on way to her world championships title in 2019. Overall, it was her 18th loss to the Taipei player.
Sindhu, whose best result this season so far has been a final appearance at the Spain Masters, however, looked far more polished in her overall game as she displayed great fight in the second and third game after losing the first. Sindhu managed to step up the pace in the second to take the match to the decider.
In the third game, the duo were neck-and-neck with the scores level at 6-6. Tai Tzu then eked out a 9-6 lead but Sindhu continued to look for angles to trouble her opponent. A forehand angled drive brought Sindhu back on even par at 10-10 before her opponent went into the break with a one-point lead.
After resumption, Sindhu was up 14-12 but she found the net twice to make it 15-14 in Tai Tzu's favour. Another shot went long and Tai Tzu moved to 17-14 with a deceptive shot. The Chinese Taipei star played a few sensational shots before a down the line smash gave her five match points. Sindhu saved two before Tai Tzu unleashed a quick return off the Indian's serve to take the match.