PV Sindhu smashes Saina Nehwal in India Open badminton thriller, enters semis
PV Sindhu pulled off a thrilling win against Saina Nehwal in a well-contested Indian Open Superseries badminton quarterfinal match at the Siri Fort Sports Complex in New Delhi today. Sixth seed Saina Nehwal was a two-time India Open champion. Catch highlights of Saina Nehwal vs PV Sindhu here.Updated: Mar 31, 2017 19:48 IST
Two-time India Open badminton champion Saina Nehwal lost to 2016 Rio Olympics silver medallist PV Sindhu in a quarterfinal match of India’s Badminton World Federation superseries tournament at Siri Fort Sports Complex today. Catch highlights of Saina Nehwal vs PV Sindhu here.
7:22 pm: The semifinal line-up in the women’s singles section has been decided. PV Sindhu will play second seed Sung Ji Hyun of Korea while Spaniard Carolina Marin will run into fourth seed Akane Yamaguchi of Japan.
7:06 pm: PV Sindhu’s attacking game in the final point caught Saina totally by surprise. Sindhu’s down the line smash was too good to beat and the better player on court won.
7:04 pm: Sindhu must be complimented from the his come-from-behind win in the second game. The match lasted 49 minutes and Sindhu will be very proud of the 20-16, 22-20 scoreline.
7:00 pm: Sindhu shows nerves of steel and wins the two most important points of the match to pull off an absolute heist. The 21-year-old wins the game 22-20 and books a place in the semifinal.
6:59 pm: Saina messes up a serve and hits the net and it’s 20-20.
6:58 pm: 20-19 Saina leads
6:57 pm: 19-all
6:56 pm: Sindhu fights back to narrow lead 19-18
6:54 pm: Lot of errors by both players in making line calls. Sindhu keeps fighting but Saina has the lead 19-16.
6:52 pm: Sindhu’s height has been a great advantage. A couple of overhead smashes win her crucial points. She trails by a point 16-15.
6:50 pm: Saina is not giving up. Her display of sudden power has caught Sindhu napping. She leads 16-13.
6:49 pm: Sindhu claws back and Saina’s lead has been cut to just two points (14-12).
6:48 pm: Saina leads 14-10
6:47 pm: Saina leads 13-10.
6: 44 pm: Sindhu’s return catches the net. Saina leads 11-7 at the break. Saina looking strong now.
6: 43 pm: Saina wins a challenge, Sindhu’s drop shot is just millimetres out. For the first time, Saina has a three-point lead at 9-6.
6:42 pm: Saina bounces back with a lovely smash. Leads 7-5
6:40 pm: Again poor judgement by Saina. Sindhu cuts her lead to just a point 6-5.
6:38 pm: A superb reverse flick by Sindhu catches Saina by surprise. But Saina grabs a 6-3 lead in second game.
6:37 pm: Meanwhile, Carolina Marinm has entered the semifinals with a 21-10, 20-22, 21-14 win vs Japan’s Minatsu Mitani.She won in 57 minutes.
6:36 pm: Saina finally wins a point on a long rally 2-1.
6:35 pm: 1-1 in game 2. Silly errors by Saina.
6:32 pm: Sindhu takes the first game 21-16. Saina looked very defensive and easily let down her guard in the last two points. The first game lasted 19 minutes. Saina must play a more intense game.
6:30 pm: 19-16 for Sindhu. Players look tense and making unforced errors in judgement.
6:29 pm: Saina bridges the gap to 18-14.
6:27 pm: The pace is hotting up and the rallies are becoming intense. Sindhu maintains her lead 17-12.
6:25 pm: A combination of errors and fine placements help Sindhu take a six-point lead. Doesn’t look good for Saina at this stage.
6:22 pm: Sindhu wins another fine rally and lead 11-9.
6:21 pm: Nice rallies and some unforced errors. It’s 9-9.
6:19 pm: Sindhu’s long reach and placements help her make it 7-7.
6: 17 pm: Lucky net point for Sindhu and it’s 5-5. Saina takes a slender lead 7-5.
6:15 pm: Saina playing a clever game but Sindhu is up for it. 4-4
6:14 pm: Saina makes it 1-1 but then drops her defence as Sindhu makes it 2-1.
6:11 pm: Saina Nehwal to serve. Sindhu wins first point with a clever drop. (1-0)
6:07 pm: Sindhu and Saina on court. Sindhu in canary yellow. Saina in blue. And on court 2, Minatsu Mitani has levelled. She has won the second game 22-20.
6:04 pm: We are minutes away from the Saina Nehwal vs PV Sindhu blockbuster. 18-18 between Marin vs Minatsu.
6:02 pm: 15-15 in second game between Marin and Minatsu. What a contest!
5:56 pm: Unseeded Minatsu is not letting Carolina Marin have it easy. It’s 10-10 in the second game. Countdown to the Saina vs Sindhu match starts on Court 1.
5:49 pm: Meanwhile, Olympic champion Carolina Marin has won her first game against Minatsu Mitani of Japan 21-10. Marin is the top seed in India Open badminton superseries.
5:26 pm: Third seed PV Sindhu will like to forget her All-England defeat. World No. 1 and top-seeded player from Chinese Taipei Tai Tzu Ying had defeated PV Sindhu 21-14, 21-10 in around 45 minutes.
5:14 pm: Talking about her quarterfinal clash, Sindhu said: “I know everybody would be looking forward to the match (against Saina) and hope the best player wins.”
5:12 pm: In this year’s Premier Badminton League, PV Sindhu (Chennai Smashers) had beaten Saina Nehwal (Awadhe Warriors) 11-7, 11-8 .
5:05 pm: Although past records and stats have no relevance, Saina had defeated Sindhu in a PBL match in 2013. Saina Nehwal, playing for Hyderabad Hotshots, beat PV Sindhu (Awadhe Warriors) 21-15, 21-7.
5:01 pm: The Saina vs Sindhu match should start in another 40 minutes. The match will follow a mixed doubles match that is starting now.
4: 54 pm: It’s all warming up to the Saina Nehwal vs PV Sindhu blockbuster. Third seed Viktor Alexen has won a tough three-setter to enter the men’s singles semis. The Denmark player has defeated Chinese Taipei’s Tzu Wei Wang 19-21 21-14 21-16. Alexen is the first to enter the last-four.
4:40 pm: In all world sports, where individuals play almost every week, the difference between players in the top 10 is very little. Mental toughness and fitness are probably key elements on the day. Both PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal are enormously gifted. Fitness and the ability to win in the mind may bring out the difference today. Saina must try and play longer rallies.
4:37 pm: Saina, probably more anxious than PV Sindhu today, has turned up for some warm-up and training. Just wondering what the coaches tell their pupils ahead of the big games.
4:33 pm: While the luck of the draw will see the elimination of either PV Sindhu or Saina Nehwal, India’s Sameer Verma will contest Denmark’s Anders Antonsen in a men’s singles quarterfinal match. Both are unseeded and this will be their first international match ever.
4:28 pm: Interestingly, both Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu crashed out at the quarterfinal stage of the All England Open badminton in Birmingham earlier this month. Saina Nehwal lost 20-22, 20-22 to Korea’s Sung Ji Hyun in an intense match at the Barclaycard centre in Birmingham
4:22 pm: Saina and Sindhu may not have clashed against each on the international stage, but they have crossed swords in the Premier Badminton League. They have a 1-1 head-to-head record in PBL.
3:57 pm: The India Open turned into a superseries tournament in 2011. When it started in 2008, it was classified as a Grand prix Gold event.
3:53 pm: “Anything can happen tomorrow in this fast court where attacking is difficult, and also playing a rally game is also tough. It is very difficult to control the shuttles,” Saina said after Thursday’s win.
“She (PV Sindhu) is a top 10 player and it will be very tough to control the shuttle. I will have to control my errors, I just hope I play better than today. But I have nothing to lose and it is lot easier to play without pressure. In Premier Badminton League, it was 11-point and I was not even sure if I would be playing as I was coming out of injury,” said Saina.
3:47 pm: Saina will be a bit tentative going into today’s match. After the knee injury that threatened her career last year, Saina’s explosive energy may have taken a beating. Sindhu, younger and fitter, may try to play a fast game.
3:41 pm: That means the winner of the match between Saina Nehwal vs PV Sindhu will face Sung Ji Hyun, who is No. 4 in the world.
3:25 pm: The first match of the day has seen the exit of the India Open women’s singles defending champion, Ratchanok Intanon. The Thai former world number 1 has lost to second seed from Korea Sung Ji Hyun 16-21, 20-22.
Fans will see the clash of the titans as Saina Nehwal, the sixth seed in the Indian Open, faces third seed PV Sindhu. The only time they have clashed against each other in a BWF event, Saina beat Sindhu 21-14, 21-17 in the title round of the 2014 India Grand Prix Gold in Lucknow.
But since 2014, PV Sindhu has grown in stature as Saina Nehwal, once the world’s No. 1 player, went downhill ainly due to injuries.
Today’s match will be a battle of nerves. Sindhu, trained by Pullela Gopichand, will have to live up to her lofty credentials she acquired when she won the Olympics silver last year.
Saina, who dropped Gopichand as her coach and went for Vimal Kumar, will also have to defend her huge reputation as a fighter.
Both players have had a smooth passage to the last-eight.
On Thursday, Saina posted a comfortable 21-14, 21-12 win over Chochuwong Porpawee of Thailand. The world No.9 Saina hardly broke a sweat as she took just 33 minutes to set up the Sindhu clash.
Sindhu has looked strong too. She got past Japanese Saena Kawakami 21-16, 23-21 in 40 minutes.
First Published: Mar 31, 2017 15:16 IST