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PV Sindhu loses to Akane Yamaguchi in semis of All England Open badminton

PV Sindhu went down in three games to Japanese second seed Akane Yamaguchi in the All England Open Badminton Championships.

other sports Updated: Mar 18, 2018 00:19 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
PV Sindhu,Akane Yamaguchi,All England Open Badminton Championships
India's PV Sindhu lost the women's singles semi-final to Japan's Akane Yamaguchi at the All England Open Badminton Championships in Birmingham on Saturday.(AP)

PV Sindhu was looking to emulate the legendary Prakash Padukone and mentor Pullela Gopichand this weekend but her hopes were dashed as the world No.3 went down in three games to Japanese second seed Akane Yamaguchi in the $1 million All England Open Badminton Championships in Birmingham on Saturday.

The world No.3 Indian played a superb match but eventually went down to world No.2 Akane 21-19, 19-21, 18-21 in an hour 19 minutes in the women’s singles semi-finals of the prestigious BWF World Tour Super 1000 tournament. This was Sindhu’s fourth loss to Akane in 10 meetings.

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The Hyderabadi was looking to be the first Indian since Saina Nehwal (in 2015) to play the final of what is claimed to be the world’s oldest badminton tournament. Saina had lost the final three years ago to Spain’s Carolina Marin in three games.

Only two Indians have ever won the distinguished All England Open: Padukona in 1980 and Sindhu’s coach Gopichand in 2001, both victories coming in men’s singles.

Akane will now take on defending champion, World No.1 and top seed Tai Tzu Ting in the final, who defeated Chinese eighth seed Chen Yufei 21-15, 20-22, 21-13 in an hour and four minutes earlier in the day.

But on Saturday at the Arena Birmingham, Sindhu took off brilliantly, taking a 6-0 lead in the first game. It felt like the Indian would race away but Akane tried to keep pace. Sindhu led 11-5 at the break and extended that lead to 17-10.

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However, the Japanese suddenly found her legs to charge from 10-17 down, win the next seven points and level the game at 17-all. Now, Sindhu’s early advantage had vanished completely.

Sindhu managed to win a couple of points to reach gamepoint at 20-18. Akane saved one but world No.3 Sindhu closed the game in her favour with a smash to take the lead in the match.

The second game was a very close and tight contest but Akane maintained a slender lead at 9-7 and then 11-9 at the break. The rallies got longer as the game progressed but Akane made sure she kept the lead.

Sindhu kept tailing Akane but the Japanese had reached matchpoint. Like the first game, but in reverse fashion, Sindhu first saved one gamepoint but then hit a wayward smash to give Akane the game, allowing the Japanese to push the match into the decider.

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At one point in the third game Sindhu led 11-7 but Akane showed pure nerve to close the gap at 18-all and win the next three points to enter the final.

First Published: Mar 18, 2018 00:17 IST