World Badminton Championships: PV Sindhu, Saina Nehwal assure medals
Both PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal have entered the women’s singles semi-finals of the World Badminton Championships which they will play in Glasgow on Saturday.other sports Updated: Aug 26, 2017 10:29 IST
Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu created history on Friday as both entered the women’s singles semi-finals of the World Badminton Championships, thereby assuring themselves of bronze medals and that for the first time Indian shuttlers will return home with at least two medals. (Highlights)
There is also a high possibility that the two could meet each other in the final on Sunday, provided they beat their respective opponents on Saturday.
Twelfth seeded Saina was tested by local girl and 16th seed Kirsty Gilmour before prevailing 21-19, 18-21, 21-15 in a marathon match that lasted an hour and 14 minutes.
Saina has now beaten the Scot five times in as many matches. In fact, this was the first time Kirsty managed to win a game against the Indian.
Saina, who won a silver at the 2015 Worlds, will next take on Japanese seventh seed Nozomi Okuhara, who ousted defending champion Carolina Marin of Spain the another quarterfinal. Saina has a strong 6-1 record against the Japanese.
Sindhu guarantees third medal
Earlier, PV Sindhu did not have to break a sweat as she eased past World No.6 Sun Yu 21-14, 21-9 to enter the women’s singles semis in Glasgow on Friday. The 2016 Rio Olympics silver-medallist needed just 39 minutes to dismiss the Chinese fifth seed to assure herself of a third World Championship medal, a feat achieved by no other Indian.
The 22-year-old Sindhu, who time and again has shown how to lift herself at the big stage, always brings out a game which is good enough to beat the best in the world.
Unlike the previous three decades, when Indian shuttlers struggled at the world’s biggest stage, the Pullela Gopichand-coached Indian shuttlers have been among medals in recent times.
Prakash Padukone pioneered India’s success at the Worlds, winning a men’s singles bronze at the 1983 edition.
India had to wait for another 28 years before Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa clinched a bronze at the 2011 Worlds. Since then, Indian women have ensured they do not return empty handed from the annual event.
Sindhu won successive bronze medals in 2013 and 2014 and Saina Nehwal went a step further, winning silver at the 2015 edition. (The World Championships are not held in the year of the Olympics).
Such was Sindhu’s dominance on Friday that the fourth seed won 42 of the 65 points played in the match to register her fourth victory over the Chinese in eight meetings.
At the start, Sindhu rushed to a 3-0 lead. Sun tried closing the gap at 4-5 but made far too many errors and poor line judgement calls, allowing Sindhu to take a 13-4 lead.
The unforced errors made it too easy for a player of Sindhu’s calibre, who needed just 19 minutes to win the game. The Indian World No. 4 did not even have to use her ‘killer’ smashes and closed it on her second game point.
One would have expected China’s top player to fight back in the second game but Sun Yu had lost confidence after losing the first. She continued making errors and Sindhu took the momentum into the second game.
The fourth seed needed only one matchpoint to finish the contest.
Sindhu next faces ninth seed and World No.10 Chen Yufei, who ousted former World Champion Ratchanok Intanon in the quarterfinals earlier in the day.
Chen, also a Chinese, has a 1-1 head-to-head against Sindhu but won the only contest played between them this year, in Malaysia.
Earlier, Kidambi Srikanth suffered heartbreak. The 24-year-old was only a win away from earning his maiden medal at the Worlds. But the Guntur-born lad went down in straight games to the top seed and World No.1 Son Wan-ho. The South Korean took just 49 minutes to beat the eighth seed Srikanth 21-14, 21-18.
Having beaten the reigning Asian Games champion twice in recent past, Srikanth was hopeful. However, it was not to be his day.
In the first game, Son Wan-ho raced to a 6-1 lead to take the early advantage. However, Srikanth fought back with some brilliant smashes to level the contest at 8-all.
The game was close enough till the point when Son was leading 13-12 but he went on a spree, winning the next eight out of 10 points to pocket the first game.
Son took the momentum into the second game and easily took a massive 16-5 lead. Srikanth put all his focus together to close the gap and brought the scoreline to 18-19. But by then, the Indian had run out of steam and Son clinched the next two points to finish the game and match.
The South Korean will next take on two-time Olympic champion Lin Dan in the semis. Son has a poor 2-10 record against the legendary Chinese.
First Published: Aug 25, 2017 16:47 IST