PV Sindhu in Hong Kong Open badminton semis, faces Ratchanok Intanon next
PV Sindhu came out with a stupendous performance to oust Japanese fifth seed Akane Yamaguchi and enter the women’s singles semi-finals of the $400,000 Hong Kong Open Superseries badminton tournament on Friday.
The only Indian left in the tournament, the second seeded Sindhu took 37 minutes to beat World No.2 Akane 21-12, 21-19 in the quarterfinals at the Hong Kong Coliseum.
This was World No.3 Sindhu’s fourth victory over the Japanese in six outings and first one of 2017 after losing to her at the French Open Superseries last month.
The 2016 Rio Olympics silver medallist will next face former World Champion Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand in the last-four clash on Saturday. Sixth seed Ratchanok beat Canadian Michelle Li 21-14, 21-16 in 39 minutes in the other quarterfinal.
It will be a tough contest for the 22-year-old Sindhu, who has a poor 1-4 record against the former World No.1 Thai. Also, this will be their first meeting this year.
On the other hand, World No.6 Ratchanok has never reached the final here, her best performance being the semis in 2015, while Sindhu finished runner-up in the tournament last year as she lost the summit clash in straight games to Tai Tzu-ying of Chinese Taipei.
Saina Nehwal, who lost her second round match on Thursday, was the last Indian to win this event way back in 2010.
On Friday, Sindhu was in supreme form and maintained the lead from the start of the first game. The 20-year-old Japanese wasn’t able to match her opponent’s strokes and the Hyderabadi was able to close the game with ease in 15 minutes.
From 18-12, Sindhu won three consecutive points to move within a game from the semi-finals.
Sindhu again took a 3-0 lead in the second game and was looking to replicate what she did in the opener. But Akane wasn’t going to give in that easily.
The Japanese fought back with some brilliant smashes and displayed her agility to up the ante. The competition was neck and neck with neither giving the other any room.
But significantly at 8-all, Akane found legs to win five straight points and take a 13-8 lead.
This was the time when Sindhu showed pure grit to slowly close the gap and levelled the contest at as late as 18-all. In her eagerness to close the game, Akane made a few net errors which gave the Indian extra motivation to try and win more points.
The momentum had swung and Sindhu had turned the tables on the Japanese fifth seed. The three-time World Championships medallist held her nerve at the most crucial time of the encounter to win three of the last four points and enter the semi-finals.
Overall, Sindhu won 42 of the 73 points played in the quarterfinal.
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