Reigning badminton world champion PV Sindhu made her way to the women’s singles semi-finals on Friday with a straight-game 21-13, 22-20 win against Japan’s Akane Yamaguchi.
Sindhu, seeded sixth, and Yamaguchi, seeded fourth, played a highly entertaining, 56-minute match and it was the Indian who held her nerves at the end to close it out.
The 26-year-old, who won the silver medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics, started a bit tentatively but quickly switched gears to go on the offensive. She controlled the play for the most part in the first game and mixed aggression with superb defensive skills.
Yamaguchi played with great intensity but struggled with the drift going down the court from her end and made a number of errors.
In the second game, Sindhu started strongly again and raced to a 14-8 lead. But just when it seemed we were witnessing a one-sided contest, Yamaguchi sprung to life and went on a stunning run. The 24-year-old won eight of the next nine points to edge ahead 16-15.
During the period, there was a sensational 54-shot, 62-second rally that left both the players on their knees gasping for breath. The momentum in the rally kept going back and forth but it was the Japanese who came out on top eventually with a smash down the line.
Yamaguchi then seemed set to take the match to a decider and had two game points at 20-18. However, Sindhu showed incredible skills and composure to storm back and win the next four points to book her spot in the last four.
Sindhu will now face second seed Tai Tzu-Ying after she defeated fifth seed Ratchanok Intanon in an epic three-game battle. Intanon won the first game and had a handy lead in the second before the world No 1 came storming back. Here’s how that match went:
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