Ace Indian shuttler P V Sindhu scored an upset victory over top seed Ji Hyun Sung of Korea in a hard-fought three setter to cruise into the women’s singles final of the USD 120,000 Malaysia Masters Grand Prix Gold badminton tournament in Penang on Saturday.
Sindhu, the double World Championship bronze medallist, beat her world number eight Korean opponent 21-19 12-21 21-10 in a semifinal contest that lasted one hour and nine minutes.
The world number 12 Indian thus put herself on course for a fifth Grand Prix Gold event. She had won the same tournament in 2013 before bagging three more Grand Prix Gold tournament titles at the Macau Open (2013, 2014 and 2015).
The two rivals had a 2-2 head-to-head record before today’s meeting and they opened the first set neck-and-neck till they tied at 11-all.
From there, Sindhu nosed ahead by winning seven straight points. The Korean fought back but Sindhu did not let the advantage slip by as the Indian took the first set 21-19.
Sindhu, however, could not continue with the momentum in the second set as she played catch-up against Sung. The Indian narrowed down the gap in the score to just one point at 10-11 but from there she lost concentration and allowed the Korean to win seven straight points to concede the second set rather tamely at 12-21.
But Sindhu saved the best for the last as she played brilliant badminton in the deciding set. She led all through the decider after 3-all. From there on, Sindhu won seven straight points to leave Sung far behind and maintained the lead to win the decider 21-10 and wrap up the match.
However, it was the end of the road for Sindhu’s compatriot Kidambi Srikanth who went down in his men’s singles semi-final in straight games to local boy Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin at the Spice Arena.
The second seeded Indian gave a tough fight in the first game, only to lose it by a close margin of 25-27. But Srikanth completely lost steam in the second game to go down 9-21 in 48 minutes.
Backed by the vociferous crowd, the World No.51 Malaysian managed to beat World No.9 Srikanth for the first time in two outings.