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PV Sindhu beats gritty Saina Nehwal to enter India Open semifinals

PV Sindhu beat Saina Nehwal 21-16, 22-20 to enter the semifinals of the India Open World Super Series badminton tournament. Sindhu will play second-seed Sung Ji-hyun of Korea next.

other sports Updated: Mar 31, 2017 22:58 IST
Navneet Singh
Navneet Singh
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
PV Sindhu,Saina Nehwal,India Open Super Series badminton
PV Sindhu celebrates her win over Saina Nehwal in the quarterfinals of the India Open Super Series badminton tournament at the Siri Fort Sports Complex in New Delhi on Friday. (PTI)

Rio Olympics silver-medallist PV Sindhu beat Saina Nehwal in straight games to sail into the semifinals of the India Open World Super Series here at the Siri Fort Sports Complex. (Sindhu vs Saina match highlights)

Sindhu overcame a battle of nerves in probably the biggest match of this tournament, winning 21-16, 22-20.

The eventual winner was slow off the blocks but gathered momentum as the match progressed.

“The contest was very close. At times it was difficult to earn points. Saina was not giving space. She was looking very fit and showed great fight. But I had faith in my abilities. That helped me stay relaxed when the going got tough,’’ she said after the 47-minute toil.

Read more | Saina Nehwal is not a special player that I have to beat every time: PV Sindhu

In fact, Saina looked more calm and confident, moving around the court with agility. Even Sindhu acknowledged Saina was flawless.

But the 2012 Olympics bronze-medallist fumbled at crucial junctures, especially at the net at 20-all in second game, paving the way for Sindhu’s victory.

Sindhu though denied she was nervous. “I never thought of the third game. I was fighting to ensure the match doesn’t go beyond the second,’’ she said.

Read more | Saina Nehwal smashes Carolina Marin on ‘world No. 1’ comment

Playing down the rivalry with Saina, she said, ‘’She is like any other player who I have to play. It’s not that I have to win against her whenever I play,’’ she added.

Sindhu faces Sung Ji-hyun of Korea in the semifinals.

Saina the favourite

Saina may have lost, but she was the crowd favourite. Even before she stepped on to the court, one could hear the crowd chanting her name. It seemed as if no one was supporting Sindhu. It was only when Sindhu was on the verge of winning that some fans began to applaud her effort.

Read more | Won’t let Saina Nehwal regain world No 1 ranking: Carolina Marin

“They (crowd) didn’t keep their mouths shut,’’ she said later.

In fact, Sindhu had to delay one of her serves as the fans wouldn’t stop chanting Saina’s name.

Sameer’s good run ends

Sameer Verma’s run in the men’s singles event came to an end. With Sameer losing his quarterfinal match to Anders Antonsen of Denmark 22-24, 19-21, the Indian challenge in men’s section also ended.

It was a close contest, with the Indian shuttler moving up and down the court to counter Anders Antonsen. The way Sameer started his quarterfinal campaign, it seemed he would cause another upset but Antonsen proved a hard nut to crack. Antonsen’s compatriot Viktor Axelsen also sailed into the semis, beating Tzu Wei Wang of Chinese Taipei 19-21, 21-14, 21-16.

Other results

Women singles quarterfinals

Carolina Marin of Spain beat Minatsu Mitani of Japan 21-10, 22-20; Akane Yamaguchi of Japan beat Nozomi Okuhara of Japan 21-13, 11-21, 21-18; Sung Ji Hyun of South Korea bt Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand 21-16, 22-20.

Men singles quarterfinals

Viktor Axelsen of Denmark bt Tzu Wei Wang of Chinese Taipei 19-21, 21-14, 21-16; Anders Antonsen Denmark bt Sameer Verma India 24-22, 21-19; NG Ka Long Angus of Hong Kong bt Tommy Sugiarto of Indonesia 10-21, 21-15, 21-19; Chou Tien Chen of Chinese Taipei bt Hans Kristian Solberg Vittinghus of Denmark 21-10, 21-14.

First Published: Mar 31, 2017 22:57 IST