World Badminton Championships 2017: PV Sindhu, Saina Nehwal assured medals; Kidambi Srikanth bows out
P V Sindhu today completed a hat-trick of medals at the World Badminton Championship as she stormed into the semi-final, lifting India's spirit after Kidambi Srikanth's quarter-final exit.
Glasgow: P V Sindhu and Saina Nehwal stormed into the semi-final, lifting India's spirit after Kidambi Srikanth's quarter-final exit.
Sindhu, a silver medallist at the Rio Olympics, assured herself of at least a bronze, her third at the World Championships, with a clinical display against China's Sun Yu.
The 22-year-old, who won a bronze at the 2013 and 2014 editions, disposed off Sun Yu 21-14, 21-9 in 39 minutes at the Emirates Arena.
"I am very happy with the performance. She is not an easy player. I just went into the court and gave my best and it went on well," Sindhu said after the match.
"Last time I lost to her in Dubai. It was not easy even though I was leading, each point was important. I was never over confident that I will finish it off, I just tried to maintain the lead," she added.
The World No 4 Indian will next take on another Chinese, World No 10 Chen Yufei, who saw off former world champion Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand.
Meanwhile, Saina Nehwal had a hard-fought victory over local-favourite Kirsty Gilmour who put up a tough fight to give the 2015 World Championships silver medallist a run for her money. Though Saina won the first game 21-19, Kirsty's dogged persistence saw her win the second game 21-18 to push the match into a decider.
But at the end of 74 minutes of play, it was the 2012 Olympics bronze medallist who won the quarter-final match to set up a clash against Japan's Nozomi Okuhara who ousted defending champion Carolina Marin from the Championships.
Srikanth had emerged as India's best bet at the event after clinching back-to-back titles at Indonesia and Australia and a runner-up at the Singapore Open.
The 24-year-old from Guntur had come into the match with twin victories over Son Wan in June at the Indonesia Super Series Premier and Australia Super Series but it counted for little as the Korean dished out a near-perfect game to outclass the Indian in a 49-minute clash.
"I am disappointed. I couldn't play my game today. I made too many mistakes. But credit to him for playing so well and for not letting me get back into the match," Srikanth said.
Among other top shuttlers, Denmark's Viktor Axelsen, five-time champion Lin Dan also reached the semifinals in men's singles.
Sindhu dished out an aggressive game and never looked in doubt as she led from start to finish during the 39-minute lop-sided match. Sun, on the other hand, looked out of sorts and nervous.
In the first game, Sindhu led 5-4, which she extended to 8-4. The duo then engaged in one of the longest rallies that had 39 shots. Sindhu eventually sealed it with a half cross court smash and quickly grabbed a 11-4 lead at the break when Sun made a wrong judgment at the baseline.
Playing the faster side of the court, Sindhu tried to make her opponent bend and move across the court with her acute-angled strokes. She sometimes used her deception and changed her pace to outwit the Chinese.
The result was Sindhu quickly moved to 15-5 lead. Sun reduced the margin to 10-16 but Sindhu eventually earned seven game points with a smart return at the forecourt that left her opponent stranded.
Sindhu faltered with a return before sealing the first game with a lovely drop shot.
The second game started with another long rally which Sindhu won with an onrushing body smash. The Indian continued to pile on the pressure to lead 11-4 at the interval.
The breather didn't bring any respite for Sun as Sindhu moved to 18-8. Frustration was clear on the face of Sun, who tried her bit to upstage the Indian but Sindhu seemed to have all the answers as she reached 11 match points with a low cross court flick. She sealed the contest when Sun went long once again.
Srikanth, on the other hand, made a nervous start, allowing Son Wan to open up a 6-1 lead early on. The Indian slowly got his bearing and clawed back at 8-8. However, Son Wan managed to grab a 11-8 advantage at the first break after a return from Srikanth went to the net.
Srikanth reduced the margin to 12-13 but the Korean once again managed to move up to a 15-12 lead with a deceptive back hand return. Srikanth's errors helped Son Wan to move to 19- 13. The Korean then grabbed six game point opportunity and sealed it when the Indian hit the net twice.
After the change of sides, Srikanth struggled to get his length right and his returns missed the baseline twice. The Indian even lost his left shoe during one of the rallies.
Srikanth struggled with his precision and placement of strokes and it helped Son Wan to eventually enter the breather with a handsome seven-point advantage.
After the break, the Korean extended the lead to 13-5. Srikanth changed gears then and reeled off seven straight points, making it 12-16 but Son Wan managed to break the streak with a return that found the Indian short at the forecourt.
The Indian missed the line again and also hit the net to allow Son Wan move to 19-14 advantage. The Korean misjudged a shuttle to gift a point to Srikanth, who replied with a cross court smash to reduce the deficit to 17-19. Another smash from Srikanth and it was 18-19.
However, two net errors from Srikanth broke his 13-match winning streak and sealed the issue in favour of the Korean.
Sindhu is one of the favourites for the gold, especially in the absence of defending champion Carolina Marin, who missed the Games due to an injury.
Firstpost.com takes a quick look at badminton star PV Sindhu's performances over the past two years, and charts her journey towards securing Olympic qualification.
Tokyo Olympics 2020: PV Sindhu has improved on her defence, worked on motion skills, says India coach Park Tae-sang
Park also addded that Tai Tzu-ying would be Sindhu's biggest rival at the Olympics.