It’s not always been easy for PV Sindhu to find her attacking rhythm since her return to action from a long injury layoff at the end of 2022. The results eluded for a while, but even when she reached the final at Spain Masters last month, it was on the back of some gritty badminton. But on Thursday, arguably for the first time since she returned on the international circuit at the start of the year, Sindhu put together her best display of attacking badminton as she came up with a straight-games win over China’s Han Yue in Dubai on Thursday at the Badminton Asia Championships.
Eighth seed Sindhu, who is ranked No 11 now, needed 33 minutes to beat the unseeded yet higher-ranked Yue (world No 9) 21-12 21-15 in a round of 16 match.
Besides Sindhu, India No 1 in men’s singles HS Prannoy also moved ahead but had to dig deep against Indonesia’s Chico Aura Dwi Wardoyo 16-21 21-5 18-21. And joining India’s top-ranked singles players into the last eight was the top doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty. The sixth-seeded duo progressed to the quarterfinals with a solid 21-13 21-11 win over Jin Yong and Na Sung Seung of Korea.
In mixed doubles, Rohan Kapoor and N Sikki Reddy entered the quarterfinals after the fourth seeded Korean pair of Seo Seung Jae Chae Yu Jung handed the Indians a walkover.
The fast-rising pairing of Gayatri Gopichand-Treesa Jolly pulled out from their women’s doubles round of 16 clash due to a niggle Gayatri suffered during their round of 32 win. Scroll understands this is precautionary decision so as not to aggravate the injury with Sudirman Cup around the corner in Suzhou.
It was also the end of the road in men’s singles for former world No 1 Kidambi Srikanth and in mixed doubles for B Sumeeth Reddy and Ashwini Ponnappa.
Sindhu on song
Sindhu pulled ahead in the opener with a run of six straight points either side of the interval and never looked in too much trouble. The second game was off to a closer start with Yue starting to engage Sindhu in longer rallies and not giving the height for her to use the downward strokes. But from 7-8 down, Sindhu went on another run of points and soon was up 17-11 on the back of some smart attacking play. Her crosscourt shots worked especially well on the day as she powered her way into the last eight for the second straight edition. Last year, she was the bronze medallist.
Sindhu will next play second seed An Se Young of Korea, the world No 2 who holds a perfect 5-0 record against the Indian.
Prannoy, the bronze medallist in 2018 at this event, had to battle it out for an hour and two minutes to prevail over the rising Indonesian star Chico in a round of 16 match. Prannoy was off to a confident start and took the opening game but the second game was one-way traffic, as he managed just 5 points.
A good start to the decider was imperative and he did just that, and took a 11-6 lead to the change of ends. Chico fought back again to make it 15-15 but the world No 9 held his nerve to close the decider out 21-18, using the body smash to good effect in the closing stages. Prannoy will next play Kanta Tsuneyama of Japan, against whom he has a 3-2 Head-to-Head record.
Earlier in men’s singles, Srikanth bowed out against Japan’s Kodai Naraoka, the 4th seed, 14-21 22-20 9-21.
Satwik-Chirag, the Indian duo who won the Swiss Open earlier this year, appeared comfortable throughout their match against the world No 66 pair from Korea. But they will now face a stern test against their idols, the third seeds Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan.