That will be a wrap for this blog. Join us on Sunday for Sindhu’s final.
Women’s singles semifinal: Sindhu reaches final after thrilling win against Yamaguchi at BWF World Tour Finals
Men’s singles semifinal:
Lakshya Sen defeated by Viktor Axelsen
7.47 pm: Fully worthy of the signature “I don’t belieevveeeee it...” from commentator Gill Clark. One of the best points you are likely to see.
Viktor Axelsen 21-13, 21-11 Lakshya Sen: Lakshya Sen showed he has the staying power against a marauding Viktor Axelsen... some amazing defensive work at times. But winning points consistently is an area to work on. Hope this week, and Bali in general, was a nice learning experience for him.
Viktor Axelsen 21-13, 21-11 Lakshya Sen: Win and a roar. Lakshya Sen produced a moment of magic in the second half of the second game, with a sensational winner. But overall, a comfortable win for world No 1 Viktor Axelsen.
Viktor Axelsen 21-13, 20-11 Lakshya Sen: Couple of match points saved.
Viktor Axelsen 21-13, 20-9 Lakshya Sen: Another desperate dive from Lakshya but the retrieve sails long. Match points for VA.
Viktor Axelsen 21-13, 17-9 Lakshya Sen: Good little run of points for Lakshya as VA seems to have gone off the boil a bit but then the Indian youngster is making errors of his own too.
Viktor Axelsen 21-13, 14-5 Lakshya Sen: WOW. WOW. WOW. Lakshya Sen with a sensational dive forward, gets back up, runs to the back-line and hits a winner facing the other side!
Viktor Axelsen 21-13, 14-4 Lakshya Sen: VA so confident with his attacking game that he is taking shuttles that would land wide and smashing them in. Nice smash to VA’s forehand side from Lakshya next up. Short points, heading for a quick finish.
A rather animated father-coach during the break but not sure if DK Sen could do much for his ward at the moment. It’s down to damage limitation.
Viktor Axelsen 21-13, 11-1 Lakshya Sen: Oh dear, a big miss at the net from Lakshya. As it is tough to get any points, can’t help if he misses sitters like that. Sen challenges a smash that was well wide.
Viktor Axelsen 21-13, 8-1 Lakshya Sen: One-way traffic at the moment.
Viktor Axelsen 21-13, 5-1 Lakshya Sen: VA off to another fast start. Commentator Gill Clark says she noticed shoulder strapping for Sen, might be affecting his attacking gameplay.
Viktor Axelsen 21-13 Lakshya Sen: First game, Viktor Axelsen! Lakshya Sen has found it tough to deal with the world No 1’s booming smashes. Who wouldn’t, really. Tough task gets a little more tougher. The Indian is showing staying power, can parry well, but just a little too dependent on VA’s errors for points.
Viktor Axelsen 20-13 Lakshya Sen: Seven game points for Vikor
Viktor Axelsen 18-11 Lakshya Sen: A really good rally again but VA shows great defence to stay in the rally, retrieves a terrific crosscourt drop from Lakshya at the net and then eventually kills it with a smash. Sums the match up.
Viktor Axelsen 17-11 Lakshya Sen: VA gives Lakshya a rare chance to smash and kill a point but the Indian sends it wide. Repeats next point. Lakshya recognises that he needs to paint the lines to stand a chance but missing them at the moment.
Viktor Axelsen 14-10 Lakshya Sen: The commentators reckon Lakshya is not having enough avenues to win points on his own, is dependent on defence plus errors from the Dane to get on the scoreboard. As I type that, a good rally finishes with VA getting a punch clear perfectly placed.
Viktor Axelsen 11-7 Lakshya Sen: Lakshya Sen has played alright, getting some good smashes in and showing great grit on defence. But Viktor Axelsen’s attacks have kept him ahead. We go into the break on the back of a service error from Lakshya. That’s not ideal.
Viktor Axelsen 9-5 Lakshya Sen: Then Lakshya responds with a nice crosscourt smash himself. Couple of points for him before VA gets the serve back with a smash winner of his own. A nice flat exchange and not for the first time, Axelsen lets Lakshya know he means business.
Viktor Axelsen 7-3 Lakshya Sen: SUPERB RALLY! Lakshya Sen does brilliantly to dive forward to retrieve a drop and then runs back to send the shuttle back but VA is ready with his big smash to close the point.
Viktor Axelsen 6-3 Lakshya Sen: Both players are going on the attack whenever possible in the early exchanges. VA getting booming nice smashes in nice and early.
Viktor Axelsen 2-2 Lakshya Sen: Lakshya starts with a good service return but misses the lines from his next two attacking shots. Gets another straight smash right next up.
Lakshya Sen vs Viktor Axelsen: The only completed match these two have played so far in this tournament was against each other. Lakshya had trained earlier this year in Dubai with VA at his new base (alongside Loh Kean Yew). Can the Indian youngster pull off an upset here?
Alright then, time for the men’s singles semifinal: Lakshya Sen vs world No 1 and BWF Male Player of the year and Olympic champion and overall great guy Viktor Axelsen
6.37 pm: Oh Minions! When they are doing their thing (they weren’t yesterday against the Danes), what an absolute delight to watch. They seem on course to win this in three.
Minions vs Olympic champs Lee/Wang is going the distance. (And the wait continues behind the scenes for Axelsen and Sen)
Will there be a decider?
PV Sindhu vs An Seyoung will be the third final on Sunday with the session starting at 1030 am IST.
6.15 pm: Olympic champions Lee/Wang have a 21-18, 13-11 lead against the Minions from Indonesia. Once this match ends, it will be Axelesn vs Sen.
Correction to the graphic below: Axelsen leads 3-0 in the H2H against Axelsen, after their meeting in the group stage of this tournament. It was a rather good match, mind you, even though Lakshya lost in straight games 15 and 14.
Men’s singles semi-finals: What a huge win for Kunlavut Vitidsarn. The Thai shuttler, three-time junior world champion, is making his mark in the senior circuit and hiw. Into the final in Bali defeating All England champion Lee Zii Jia. Faces the winner of Lakshya vs Axelsen.
04.10 pm: PV Sindhu has ended her recent run of five semifinal defeats in some style. Back in a final and of course it happens at one of the major events. Up next, a final against the red-hot An Seyoung who is looking for her third title in three weeks in Bali
Here’s how the thrilling third game panned out. Yamaguchi with a stunning fightback but Sindhu held her nerves at the end.
PV Sindhu is into the final: Akane Yamaguchi played some jaw-dropping net shots in those closing stages. So easy to be unnerved by the brilliance of her touch play. But Sindhu stuck to her guns. Such a great finish to that match. the last 7-8 points in the decider were just world class badminton from two world class shuttlers. In the end, Sindhu edges out a thriller! Just what does one say when she keeps doing it again and again and again in big tournaments. Goosebumps for any badminton lover.
PV Sindhu 21-15, 15-21, 21-19 Akane Yamaguchi: PV SINDHU HAS DONE IT! INTO THE FINAL! A body smash sets it up... and despite Yamaguchi’s best efforts, the world champion has done it.
PV Sindhu 21-15, 15-21, 20-19 Akane Yamaguchi: HELP FROM NET CHORD! SINDHU HAS A MATCH POINT! After another fantastic exchange at the net.
PV Sindhu 21-15, 15-21, 19-19 Akane Yamaguchi: Now Sindhu’s turn! Amazing round-the-head crosscourt smash. That’s her strength.
PV Sindhu 21-15, 15-21, 18-19 Akane Yamaguchi: Akane shapes to play a smash and then slices it in front of Sindhu. Stunning, just stunning.
PV Sindhu 21-15, 15-21, 18-18 Akane Yamaguchi: Oh dear, if Akane is making the shuttle do magic at the net, Sindhu is just a bit nervous. Misses a backhand and level again.
PV Sindhu 21-15, 15-21, 18-17 Akane Yamaguchi: Sindhu ends the AY run. She had to! Emphatic kill at the net... AY tries to retrieve that as well. But for a change she couldn’t. Sindhu has the serve back and a one-point lead.
PV Sindhu 21-15, 15-21, 17-17 Akane Yamaguchi: Oh, Akane! What net play. Lunging forward, plays a superb backhand spinning shot. Sindhu nets the lift. And Sindhu sends the shuttle long next rally! ALL SQUARE!
PV Sindhu 21-15, 15-21, 17-15 Akane Yamaguchi: Sindhu had the space on the court but didn’t have the balance to get the round-the-head to land in. Two point game npw.
PV Sindhu 21-15, 15-21, 17-14 Akane Yamaguchi: This is just utterly gripping badminton from both shuttlers. Both visibly tired but both retrieving the shuttle with everything they have. Another gripping rally. Sindhu then opens up a five-point lead with a good crosscourt winner and another roar. Lovely spinning shot from AY at the net to get the serve back. Sindhu rather gifts an easy point next. Still only three points in this.
PV Sindhu 21-15, 15-21, 15-12 Akane Yamaguchi: Another massive rally, both shuttlers visibly tiring. Akane somehow stays in the point mid-way through that rally despite squatting to retrieve a shuttle. The Japanese gets that point.
PV Sindhu 21-15, 15-21, 15-11 Akane Yamaguchi: Sindhu misses a crosscourt... and now AY has closes the gap down to two. This is anybody’s match still. Small ‘come on’ from Sindhu as she plays a good downward shot. A warning from the umpire to Sindhu to not waste time between points. AY then misses a rather straightforward forehand smash. Breathing room again for Sindhu.
PV Sindhu 21-15, 15-21, 13-10 Akane Yamaguchi: Biggest roar of the match from Sindhu. A high-quality rally, ends with Sindhu dominating the net exchange and closing the point out. She wanted to end the brief AY resurgence there. A long rally follows that an that goes Akane’s way. Sindhu looked a little tired there. Longest rally, 37 shots.
PV Sindhu 21-15, 15-21, 12-9 Akane Yamaguchi: Well there you go, a couple of points for AY and she will start to believe. If anyone can close this gap down and win, it will be Akane. Sindhu challenges a call on the back-line and it is in. More tactical from the Indian than anything.
PV Sindhu 21-15, 15-21, 12-6 Akane Yamaguchi: The run of points extends by one after the change of ends but AY has the serve back at 6-12. She needs a run at the moment... all out attack again?
PV Sindhu 21-15, 15-21, 11-5 Akane Yamaguchi: Another sublime crosscourt winner from Sindhu at the end of a lung-busting rally. This was 31 shots! Yamaguchi left flat on the court again. Soon after, a 11-5 lead at change of ends for Sindhu on a run of 7 straight points. If she wanted a cushion for moving to the near side, she has it and then some.
PV Sindhu 21-15, 15-21, 9-5 Akane Yamaguchi: 35-shot rally finished with a delightful crosscourt slice drop by PV SIndhu! TTY would be proud of that shot. Magical from Sindhu. Best, longest rally of the match. Sindhu follows that up with two more really good points and has a solid lead. Five straight points.
PV Sindhu 21-15, 15-21, 6-5 Akane Yamaguchi: Similar scenes to game one, when AY struggled to find the lines on the backcourt from the near side. Happening again in the last couple of points, good judgment from Sindhu too.
PV Sindhu 21-15, 15-21, 4-4 Akane Yamaguchi: Both players trying to play flatter points at the moment. The longest rally of the match hasn’t been more than 30 shots if I am not mistaken... not very typical for battles between these two. Points continue to be exchanged here early in the decider.
PV Sindhu 21-15, 15-21, 2-1 Akane Yamaguchi: If the sides are playing a part, Sindhu needs a strong start. Couple of nice downward shots early on, more pace from her.
PV Sindhu 21-15, 15-21 Akane Yamaguchi: It takes only one game point for Akane Yamaguchi to force the decider. Symmetry in the scoreline. You have to wonder if the sides they are playing from is playing a part and if it is, then the news is not good for Sindhu. Here’s how game 2 unfolded.
PV Sindhu 21-15, 15-20 Akane Yamaguchi: Sindhu’s backhand being targetted and she is not getting height or distance on her lifts. And then at 15-19.... WHAT A RALLY! SENSATIONAL FROM BOTH SHUTTLERS! Sindhu’s defence somehow keeps her in the point but AY eventually converts it.
PV Sindhu 21-15, 14-18 Akane Yamaguchi: The Japanese star is now hitting jump-smash winners. She is a pace ahead of the game at the moment. Sindhu unable to put together more than two points in a row.
PV Sindhu 21-15, 12-15 Akane Yamaguchi: Twice since the interval Sindhu has come up with two fantastic defensive blocks for winners! If AY can do it, she can do it too says Sindhu. But then gives the serve back with a service error.
PV Sindhu 21-15, 10-11 Akane Yamaguchi: Oh amazing defence from Akane! A body smash from Sindhu is converted into a winner by the Japanese star. Wow. What reflex.
PV Sindhu 21-15, 10-10 Akane Yamaguchi: You could hear Sindhu sighing heavily as the shuttle lands in at the backcourt. She then pulls off a brilliant whipped forehand crosscourt winner. That was fantastic to watch, mid-air from Sindhu.
PV Sindhu 21-15, 7-8 Akane Yamaguchi: Yamaguchi starting to find the lines now... punch-clears and the straight smashes are starting to land in. Sindhu can’t afford to relax here as Yamaguchi goes from 2-5 to 8-6. And then a much-needed point for Sindhu, a brilliant crosscourt smash that leaves AY on the court.
PV Sindhu 21-15, 6-4 Akane Yamaguchi: AY having some success with punch clears to the back court from the far side now. Seems to have a better hang of the drift from that side. But as I say that, sends another lift wide.
PV Sindhu 21-15, 4-2 Akane Yamaguchi: The second game starts off with one of the longer rallies we have seen so far, went Sindhu’s way. Points exchanged for 2-2, and then Sindhu with two really up-tempo points to keep AY on the backfoot.
PV Sindhu 21-15 Akane Yamaguchi: FIRST GAME, PVS! Terrific straight smash, not returned by Akane and it is the first game point that is converted by the Indian. Efficient from her so far, AY a bit erratic. Not the highest quality of badminton we have seen from both players but Sindhu’s downward shots causing the Japanese plenty of trouble.
PV Sindhu 20-15 Akane Yamaguchi: AY on the backfoot, sends a half-smash wide and game points for Sindhu.
PV Sindhu 19-15 Akane Yamaguchi: AY has not been getting the length right on the lifts and clears from the near side. Errors galore at the moment from her. Sindhu then tries a flick serve that goes long. Both players perhaps guilty of overthinking at the moment. A lucky net chord for Sindhu and a handy lead.
PV Sindhu 16-14 Akane Yamaguchi: Both players moving each other on the diagonals across courts. A superb 25-shot rally, Sindhu almost gets the punch clear crosscourt perfect, but keyword almost. It is just wide when AY had seemingly given up on that point. Next rally is killed with a superb straight smash and a roar to go with it.
PV Sindhu 14-13 Akane Yamaguchi: Sindhu recovers from being off-balance in a rally to then win it on an error from AY. AY wins the next point with a body smash. Neither player getting away with this game.
PV Sindhu 13-12 Akane Yamaguchi: Sindhu trying to play as many downward shots as possible, making AY work hard at the net. Akane is responding with some terrific touch-play too when possible. It’s like a chess match at the moment. Not many rallies now.
PV Sindhu 11-9 Akane Yamaguchi: Streaky start from both players. Run of points one way then the other. But it is Sindhu who has a two-point lead at the mid-game interval.
PV Sindhu 9-9 Akane Yamaguchi: Both players going on mini-runs at the moment. Sindhu opens up a 9-6 lead and then AY makes it 9-9.
PV Sindhu 7-6 Akane Yamaguchi: And here we go. The rallies are starting to get longer. As they almost always are when these two are close to their best. Sindhu’s run of points comes to a close at 5. AY gets two shuttles to land perfectly within the lines to retake the lead. Sindhu then ups the pace and kills two rallies with great downward shots.
PV Sindhu 4-4 Akane Yamaguchi: Sindhu playing with a bit more control now. Run of four points for both shuttlers to start off.
PV Sindhu 2-4 Akane Yamaguchi: A couple of shuttles sent wide by AY now and Sindhu is on board.
PV Sindhu 0-3 Akane Yamaguchi: Sindhu challenges the line call right away! Don’t usually see that... and it is so close. Millimeters on the line, in. Sindu misses the line the next up. Close calls.
PV Sindhu 0-0 Akane Yamaguchi: Akane to serve... here we go.
Warm-ups done. Sindhu has chosen side after winning the toss. She must be ready for a long battle, that’s a smart call.
2.35 pm: Sindhu has been reaching semifinals consistently on tour this year... the final has proved elusive in the recent past. The Indian has now lost the last five semifinals she has played in, starting from All England 2021. Can she end that run today?
In the Indonesia Masters, their latest meeting, Akane Yamaguchi had the better of PV Sindhu in fairly comprehensive manner.
02.20 pm: Hello and welcome to the live coverage of the women’s singles semifinal at the BWF World Tour Finals in Bali where PV Sindhu takes on Akane Yamaguchi. It’s chapter 21 of their brilliant rivalry. A spot in the final is at stake where rising Korean star An Seyoung awaits.
Sindhu, a two-time Olympic medallist, started the season finale in Bali with two wins against Line Christophersen and Yvonne Li. In the third match of the group, she lost in an engrossing battle against world no. 10 Chochuwong, going down 12-21 21-19 14-21 in a match that lasted an hour and 11 minutes. It was Sindhu’s third loss to the 2016 world junior champion Chochuwong in seven meetings.
Sindhu thus finished in the second position in Group A, behind top seed Chochuwong who earlier lost against the red-hot An Seyoung.
Screenshots courtesy Tournament Software and Disney+Hotstar