Sindhu sails into title round

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 17 Dec 2017 12:20:14

DUBAI,

Dec 16,

(PTI),

OLYMPIC silver-medallist PV Sindhu stood a step away from clinching her maiden title at the Dubai Super Series Finals after defeating Chen Yufei of China in straight games in the women’s singles semi-finals here on Saturday.The 22-year-old Indian dished out a controlled game of badminton to outclass the Glasgow World Championship bronze medallist Chinese opponent 21-15, 21-18 in a match that lasted a little less than an hour.

World No 3 Sindhu thus emulated Saina Nehwal, who had reached the final in 2011 and mixed doubles pair of Jwala Gutta and V Diju, who had ended runners-up in 2009.“Overall, it was a very good quality match. Though I won in straight games, there were long rallies. It never got over till the last point. I was just thinking about the next point, each point is important. Chen is an upcoming player and she has played exceptionally well. Her defence is solid,” Sindhu said after the match.

In the summit clash on Sunday, the World Championship silver medallist Indian will face World No 2 Akane Yamaguchi of Japan, who saw off Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon 17-21, 21-12, 21-19 in another semi-final on Saturday. Sindhu had thrashed Yamaguchi in straight games in her last Group A match on Friday.

“I really want to be the first Indian woman to win this tournament. Yamaguchi will be a tough opponent. I will have to be prepared. It will be a long, big match, so not thinking anything now. There will not be easy points,” Sindhu said. Playing an opponent with whom she has a 2-2 head-to-head record this season, Sindhu had to work hard during the rallies to stay a step ahead of the Chinese.

In the first game, Sindhu rode on the unforced errors of Chen, ranked eighth in the world, to quickly open up a 5-0 lead early on. Chen opened her account when Sindhu found the net and soon she drew parity with an accurate placement and superb return at the nets. Chen, who did not reach the finals of any super series tournament this season, punished Sindhu for putting the shuttle short at the mid-court and grabbed a 8-6 lead when the Indian again committed an error.

With Chen going wide, Sindhu broke the rhythm and then unleashed a magnificent down-the-line smash to claw her way back at 8-8. Sindhu grabbed a 10-8 lead when the Chinese hit the net and wide. A long rally ensued which ended with Sindhu failing to reach for the shuttle at the forecourt. Another accurate return at the baseline and it was Chen who had made it 10-10 but she sent the shuttle out again as Sindhu enjoyed a slender 11-10 lead at the break.

Chen found the going tough after the breather as she struggled to control the shuttle to hand Sindhu a 15-11 lead. The Chinese exploited Sindhu’s backhand forecourt with some beautiful backhand returns to make it 13-16 but Sindhu continued to gather points, producing some superb returns which her opponent could not negotiate. Chen defended a body smash from Sindhu but then again hit long as Sindhu grabbed five game points. The Indian sealed the game with an overhead return which Chen failed to reach.

After the change of sides, Chen produced some measured smashes to draw early lead but Sindhu unleashed a cross court smash after the Chinese tripped at the forecourt to draw parity at 2-2. Using her height, the Indian reached the shuttle early and produced some sharp acute-angled returns to move ahead to 6-3. Sindhu then produced a backhand flick near the net to grab another point before miscuing a shot. Sindhu added extra power to her returns, forcing her rival to commit errors. At 5-9, Chen pocketed a couple of points before a steep crosscourt return took Sindhu to 10-7. She entered the lemon break when Chen went wide again.