PV Sindhu has guaranteed India a medal at the Badminton Asia Championships in Manila, Philippines, after beating fifth seeded Chinese player He Bing Jiao in a tight three-game match on Friday to make it to the semi-finals.
Sindhu is the last Indian remaining in contention at the continental individual event as Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty lost in three games against Malaysian pair Aaron Chia and Wooi Yik Soh.
Sindhu, world No 7 from India who entered the match with a 7-9 head-to-head record against Bing Jiao, took an hour and 16 minutes to register a 21-9, 13-21, 21-19 win and make it three wins on the trot against her Chinese rival. Bing Jiao has been in terrific form on tour, and this was actually her first defeat on court this season, having won German Open and Korea Masters, while she pulled out of the All England at quarterfinal stage.
Sindhu will next play top seed and defending champion Akane Yamaguchi of Japan for a spot in the final in what will be the battle of former and current world champions. It will be their 22nd meeting on tour and Sindhu has a 13-8 (corrected) lead in the H2H.
The other semifinal features Chinese young gun Wang Zhi Yi versus second seed An Se Young from Korea.
Sindhu started the match racing to an 11-2 lead, staying in control to eventually take the opening game comfortably. Bing Jiao struggled to control her errors.
After changing sides though, Bing Jiao started to fight back. At 10-10 in the second game, the Chinese won 11 of the next 14 points.
In the decider, Sindhu made a strong start, racing to a 7-2 lead but could not stop her opponent from clawing her way back into the match. Bing Jiao reduced the deficit to the point that Sindhu held just a 16-15 lead. To add to the drama, there was a break in play due to the umpire losing track of the scores, that got Sindhu rather animated.
But the Indian did not let go of the lead, eventually claiming the final game 21-19 – but not before the Chinese saved three match points.
The emotions were unmistakable as Sindhu sank to the floor in celebration after the win.
The victory confirms a second medal for Sindhu at the competition, after she won bronze at the 2014 edition. Incidentally, Sindhu beat Bing Jiao for the bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics last year.
There was chance for another medal chance for the Indians but the men’s doubles World No 7 pair of Satwik and Chirag could not seal a spot in the semi-final. Soh and Chia, the Tokyo 2020 bronze medallists, won 12-21 21-14 21-16 in 53 minutes.
The Indian pair started the match strongly, not allowing the Malaysians to settle down and dictating tempo. But once Chia-Soh cleaned up their game, they started to take over, especially the latter starting to show his lightning speed on court. The differentiator in the match came at the start of the third game where the Indians gave up a 4-11 lead. A glimmer of hope came from Satwik-Chirag fought back from 12-18 to 16-18 but a service fault for height from the latter snapped the run and the Malaysians closed the match out.