Changzhou: Rising star PV Sindhu pulled off the biggest upset of her career when she stunned London Olympics gold medallist Li Xuerui of China to storm into the women’s singles semi-finals of the Li Ning China Masters Super Series badminton tournament, on Friday.
World No. 24 Sindhu, who is the lone Indian woman in the fray in the absence of star compatriot Saina Nehwal, won 21-19, 9-21, 21-16 in a tense 45-minute contest against the second seeded and world No. 3.
Sindhu, who has earned the reputation of a giant-killer, turned out to be more aggressive than her fancied opponent as she went on to hit as many as 26 smash winners as opposed to 20 by the Chinese. The net game was a close affair as the Indian had nine points to the Chinese’s eight.
Sindhu came into the match high on confidence, having got the better of world No. 14 and eighth seed Porntip Buranaprasertsuk of Thailand in the pre-quarter finals of the tournament.
The 17-year-old will now take on the fourth seeded Yanjiao Jiang of China in the last four stage.
Sindhu straightaway opened a 3-0 lead and then made it 6-1 in the opening game before the Chinese reduced the gap to 6-7. She continued to maintain the lead but Xuerui used all her experience to make it 18-19.
It looked like Sindhu would wither under intense pressure from the vastly experience opponent but the Indian admirably held on to her nerves to take the first game 21-19.
Xuerui, however, came back strongly and it was the London Games gold winner Chinese, who dictated terms on the Indian in the second game.
Xuerui made a last-ditch effort and reduced the gap to 16-19 but the Indian was too determined as she took two more points to script a famous victory.
Badminton Association of India (BAI) president Akhilesh Das Gupta congratulated Sindhu on her achievement. “This is a big thing for Indian badminton. This will definitely inspire a lot of youngsters to take up the sport in the country,” said Das Gupta.
Meanwhile, Ajay Jayaram came from a game behind to beat compatriot Sourabh Varma 12-21, 21-14, 21-16 in a quarter final battle that lasted 49 minutes. In the semi-final, Ajay will take on the winner of the match between Bin Qiao of China and Hong Kong’s Yun Hu.
RMV Gurusaidutt, however, crashed out of the tournament after going down to the top seed Long Chen of China 8-21, 12-21 in another quarter finals clash of the men’s singles event.