Chinese hurdle for PV Sindhu
Two-time Olympic medallist PV Sindhu eked out a three-game win over world No.1 Akane Yamaguchi of Japan to make it to the semi-finals of the Thailand Open Super 500 tournament here on Friday.
The Indian, seeded sixth, prevailed 21-15, 20-22, 21-13 over the second seeded Japanese in 51 minutes to set up a clash with Olympic champion Chen Yu Fei of China.
The last time the duo had played — during the Badminton Asia Championships semi-finals — the match had been marred by controversy with Sindhu being penalised a point by the umpire for delaying tactics.
Sindhu came into the match against Yamaguchi with a 13-9 head-to-head record and dished out another fine performance to notch up her 14th victory over the reigning world champion.
There was not much to separate the two in the initial phase with Sindhu depending on her cross court slices and drops to trouble Yamaguchi, who blew a three-point lead to allow the Indian move to a 11-9 break.
Yamaguchi reeled off five match points only for Sindhu return the favour with seven straight points to move to a 19-14 lead. Sindhu, however, sent the shuttle long before moving to five game points and sealing it when an off-balance Yamaguchi sent the shuttle to the net again.
The Japanese looked a bit passive as her movements were not smooth and game erratic, allowing Sindhu to jump to a 11-5 advantage at the interval after winning 10 of the last 11 points without much ado.
Sindhu led 15-11 in the final game when Yamaguchi committed errors in her return. The Indian soon unleashed her smashes and another punch-clear gave her eight match points, which she converted on second attempt.