Two-time Olympic medallist P V Sindhu and world championship bronze medallist Lakshya Sen registered contrasting wins to advance to the women's and men's singles semi-finals, respectively, at the Yonex-Sunrise India Open badminton tournament in New Delhi on Friday.
Top seed Sindhu, a former world champion, got the better of compatriot Ashmita Chaliha 21-7 21-18 in 36 minutes, while Sen rallied his way to a hard-fought 14-21 21-9 21-14 victory over HS Prannoy in another all-Indian quarter-final.
The 26-year-old from Hyderabad set up a women's singles last-four clash with Thailand's sixth seed Supanida Katethong, who entered the semifinals after the third seeded Yeo Jia Min of Singapore pulled out of the tournament due to "high fever".
Sen, seeded third, will square off against Malaysia's Ng Tze Yong in the semifinals.
In the other women's semifinal, Aakarshi Kashyap will face second seeded Thai Busanan Ongbamrungphan after the Indian notched up a 21-12 21-15 win over compatriot Malvika Bansod on Friday.
Busanan trounced USA's Lauren Lam 21-12 21-8 in another last-eight clash.
Second seeded men's doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty also entered the semifinals with a 21-18 21-18 win over Singapore's Hee Yong Kai Terry and Loh Kean Hean.
Haritha Manazhiyil Harinarayan and Ashna Roy also made it to the last four in women's doubles after beating Rudrani Jaiswal and Jamaludeen Anees Kowsar 21-16 21-16 in the quarterfinals.
The last time Sindhu was up against Chaliha, at the 83rd Yonex-Sunrise Senior National Championship in 2019, the youngster from Assam had produced a spirited performance.
On Friday, Chaliha took time to get into the groove and put up a good fight in the second game but couldn't stop Sindhu from walking away with the match.
Sindhu came out all guns blazing in the opening game, jumping to a 11-5 lead at the interval and then reeled off the last 10 points to earn the bragging rights.
Chaliha gave a better account of herself in the second game as she tied 9-9 before Sindhu managed a slender one-point advantage at the break. Sindhu zoomed to 15-11 but Chaliha again clawed her way back to 15-15.
Thereafter, Sindhu switched gears and grabbed four match points. Chaliha saved two match points before Sindhu closed out the tie.
In men's singles, it was the first international meeting but third overall between Sen and Prannoy as the duo engaged in a battle of supremacy.
On a comeback trail, Prannoy, who had reached the quarterfinals at the last world championships, dominated the proceedings initially to secure a 6-2 lead. He got his acts together in time to turn the tables at 12-10 and then zoomed from 15-14 to pocket the opening game.
"The pace was high in the first game as both of us tried to up the pace but I made errors at 13-13 and it cost me the game," Sen said.
Sen, however, roared back into the contest in the second game as he ran up a huge 12-5 lead and didn't look back from that point, as Prannoy crumbled.
In the decider, Prannoy took the early initiative, opening up a 6-1 advantage but couldn't sustain it as Sen moved to 11-9 at the interval and then pocketed nine of the next 11 points to seal the match in his favour.
"I played a bit more patiently in second and I had lead all through, and in the third game he started well but I gave away easy points in the beginning. But then I started playing patiently and played the rally game and it was working for me, so I stuck to it. I had 3-4 points lead, so it helped me to close out the match," Sen said.
The men's doubles pair of Ishaan Bhatnagar and Sai Pratheek K cut a sorry figure against Malaysian third seeds Ong Yew Sin and Teo Ee Yi, losing 7-21 7-21 in just 19 minutes.
In the mixed doubles, the Indian pairing of Venkat Gaurav Prasad and Juhi Dewangan, seeded eighth, were no match for Malaysian combination of Chen Tang Jie and Peck Yen Wei, going down 10-21 13-21 in just 23 minutes.
Another Indian pair of Nithin HV and Ashwini Bhat K lost 15-21 19-21 to Singapore's Hee Yong Kai Terry and Tan Wei Han to bow out of the USD 400,000 event.
Thomas Cup: For a few hours, badminton became the national sport. The names of Lakshya Sen, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy, Chirag Shetty and Kidambi Srikanth became the names to chant, in a splash of enthusiasm that conquered everything, including the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2022.
The world no 7 Sindhu, seeded sixth, took just 37 minutes to get the better of Sim Yu Jin, who had played a pivotal role in Korea's Uber Cup win, 21-16 21-13 in a second round match.
World No. 7 PV Sindhu started off things with 21-17, 21-10 win against Michelle LI.