French Open: Pusarla Battles Past Li in Tight Contest

It was at the last edition of the YONEX French Open that Pusarla V Sindhu retired in her second round match. What was thought to be a minor niggle in her left knee led to a prolonged break, with her returning to action after three months, at the Badminton Asia Team Championships where she led India to gold.

At the YONEX French Open 2024 today, in only her second tournament back from the layoff, the Indian made an impressive comeback from a grim position against Michelle Li in the standout contest of the event so far.

With Li leading 22-20 14-7, Pusarla turned it around, edging the Canadian by the tightest of margins, 20-22 22-20 21-19.

“It took time to get used to the court,” said the world No.11. “It feels very good, If I had lost I woud’ve felt I had trained hard but it wasn’t up to the mark. But these kinds of wins will give me confidence, it being a major World Tour event.

“The only motto I had was one point at a time. I was down 14-7 in the second game. I just wanted to keep the shuttle in the court, that’s all that mattered.”

Li, who has been on the mend from a right knee surgery last September, couldn’t shake off the feeling that she’d missed an opportunity.

“There were a lot of points when I felt I had the control but I made the mistake,” said Li. “It was tough to feel confident, but I tried to stay in it. My shots weren’t fully working today but it was a long match and I haven’t played a long match like this in a while. So I think there’s a lot of work to do, but I’m glad I’m back to competing and start training normally. Hopefully I can get the endurance up and the consistency back.

“It was a tough match, could’ve gone either way. I’m disappointed with my own mistakes. Tactics wise maybe I wasn’t smart with my shots. But in terms of being able to come back, I’m very happy that I’m back and very grateful that I’m healing very well.

“It’s the kind of thing where mentally you know you can do better. And there’s a lot of limitations to your body still and it’s tough to deal with that internal conflict.”

Zhang Upsets Marin

Pusarla’s reward for her comeback win will be a faceoff against Beiwen Zhang, who beat Carolina Marin for the first time in 11 years.

Marin, who has beaten Zhang eight times in a row, was in tears as she struggled to come to terms with her 14-21 21-16 21-17 loss.

Zhang, on the other hand, had sensed her chance. “The last two times I played her I felt I was able to match her pace,” she said.

Zhang ends an 11-year wait.



“I’d lost the last time I played him (Christo Popov), so this time I prepared well. He was very proactive and attacking the last time we faced each other. From the second half of last year I’ve tried to adapt and be more positive. My coach Sun Jun has been working on my technical side and he has his ideas and a strong vision for my game.” – Shi Yu Qi

“I made it tough for him but he was precise and solid on the big rallies today. It doesn’t matter if I’m playing doubles after singles; I just give my 100 per cent.” – Popov

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