There was a choice to cheer for RMV Gurusaidutt, former world champion Ratchanok Intanon or a bit later, HS Prannoy, who got rid off top seed Jan O Jorgensen in the previous round. But as Indonesia’s Tommy Sugiarto put it simply, “He is Lin Dan. Everyone knows Lin Dan.” The moment the legend’s match was announced against the Indonesian world No 10, the crowd shifted to Court 2 at the Siri Fort Stadium and threw its weight behind the Chinese superstar.
Everyone thought it would be an easy tie, after all Super Dan had beaten Sugiarto thrice, but it turned into 88 minutes of nailbiting action.
With every point he won, Sugiarto seemed determined not to let go. He wrong footed the five-time world champion and smashed winners past the only shuttler to have achieved the Super Grand Slam. When Lin Dan erred for the final time on match point, Sugiarto could only sink to his knees in relief, having made it to the Yonex Sunrise India Open semifinals in style on Friday.
The electronic scoreboard read 21-17, 15-21, 21-17. The 26-year-old had to sit down and sip water to regain his breath. “I knew how tough it would be,” said the eighth seed. “It is one of my best wins.”
Though Super Dan made uncharacteristic unforced errors on lifts, no one could say Sugiarto didn’t have to work hard. Having left the Indonesia national team, he started to train under 1983 world champion Icuk Sugiarto, his father, two months ago.
“It was my d ecision to become independent,” said the soft-spoken shuttler. It seems to have had effect because this was the first time the 2014 World Championship bronze-medallist took a game off the Chinese star.
SCARE FOR SRIKANTH
World No 4 Kidambi Srikanth took 78 minutes to overcome Japan’s Takuma Ueda to reach the semifinals. After winning the first game easily at 21-15, Ueda saved three match points to equalise at 25-23. However, in the end the Swiss Open champion triumphed 21-18 in the decider. For a place in the final, he meets qualifier Xue Song of China who beat Gurusaidutt 15-21, 21-18, 21-13. Prannoy’s run came to an end with the 22-year-old losing out to Dane Viktor Axelsen 16-21, 21-9, 21-18. Axelsen now faces Sugiarto in the last-four stage.
SAINA, CAROLINA WIN
The world No 1 battle between Saina Nehwal and Carolina Marin stayed on track with the top two seeds reaching the semifinals with contrasting wins. While the Spanish world champion was stretched by Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara 21-15, 17-21, 21-15, Saina thrashed Indonesia’s Hana Ramadhini 21-15, 21-12 in 40 minutes. This was the first
time Saina made the semifinals of the tournament after it became part of the Super Series calendar.