Dubai Superseries Finals as it happened: Yamaguchi triumphs, Sindhu goes down fighting
This was Sindhu’s first apperance in the year-end final and she finishes with silver.
Post-match: PHEW. What a game. Both players gave absolutely everything and in the end it was Yamaguchi’s resilience that proved to be the difference. She absolutely deserves the title. loses her third major final after coming close to end the drought. She has played many such humdingers in the last few years winning some, losing some. But somehow hasn’t cracked the code in the major championship finals. But remember, she is only 22.
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A reminder from Dravid on what it takes to succeed – the need to fail well.
GAME AND MATCH, AKANE YAMAGUCHI! It’s yet another heart-breaking title defeat for Sindhu. BUT WHAT A MATCH! Yamaguchi has won the humdinger. Two unforced errors from Sindhu at the crucial juncture to lose 15-21, 21-12, 21-19 in 94 minutes.
Game 3, Sindhu 19 - 20 Yamaguchi: MATCH POINT AKANE! Sindhu nets a backhand lift – this is what pressure does to a player.
Game 3, Sindhu 18 - 18 Yamaguchi: And SINDHU wins the crucial point! A sudden injection of pace to the proceedings from both the players. Sindhu is just about hanging on to the point, but finishes with a ferocious cross-court smash!
Game 3, Sindhu 17 - 18 Yamaguchi: Sindhu levels it 17-17, but sends the shuttle long in the next point rather tamely with a forehand down the line. And she looks vexed. Gopichand is egging her on. The next point could decide this.
Game 3, Sindhu 16 - 17 Yamaguchi: Not a bad time to get a challenge right for PV! Wowzer, what a match this is turning into. Sindhu calls it right after another rally.
Game 3, Sindhu 15 - 17 Yamaguchi: We are still recovering from that rally, but the players don’t have that freedom. Gopichand is now incredibly animated after every point. But Akane is moving ahead at a crucial time. Its just about surviving every point physically from here on. Tactics are secondary from here on.
Game 3, Sindhu 14 - 13 Yamaguchi: INCREDIBLE! UNBELIEVABLE! WHAT A RALLY!
The best rally of the match goes to Sindhu! Yamaguchi is flat on the court! What a defence from Sindhu there. She returned two unreturnable smashes. Both players are down on their knees. Would be interesting to see who has the energy to stand up and fight again for another 10-12 points at least
Game 3, Sindhu 13 - 13 Yamaguchi: Another wonderful rally! One game all, 13-all. Boy this is tight! Both players on their knees at the end of that one, but Akane recovers quicker almost as if to make a point. Sindhu with the error to end that rally, and we are all level.
Game 3, Sindhu 13 - 12 Yamaguchi: Gopichand is rarely this animated. He is speaking in Telugu and unlikely that he is giving Sindhu any tactical inputs. Just trying to charge her up probably to find some hidden resolve and energy for another half an hour may be...
Meanwhile two more fantastic short rallies, as Akane keeps fighting back – some excellent defending by Sindhu though.
Game 3, Sindhu 12 - 10 Yamaguchi: Sindhu has challenged that line call, she loses it. (Some things don’t change!) But she needed that breather after yet another loooooong rally. 11-10 in her favour still. Some stern words from Gopi during that mini-break, as he spurs her ward on. Akane nets the next point and Sindhu lets out a cry again.
Game 3, Sindhu 11 - 8 Yamaguchi: Sindhu thinks she will have a 4-point klead at the final change of ends, but a good challenge by Akane means she takes a point game. Sindhu will have her lead though, as she yells out “COME ON”! It’s shaping up into yet another marathon final for P V Sindhu! She has a slender 11-8 lead at the break in the final game of the match.
Game 3, Sindhu 10 - 7 Yamaguchi: After those lengthy rallies to begin the game, it’s short, quick points now as Sindhu builds a head of steam. After a delicate exchange at the end, she smashes one on the face of Akane to move 10-7 ahead. Crowd roars!
Game 3, Sindhu 6 - 6 Yamaguchi: Another net-chord effected point, this time works in favour of Akane. She smashes it, the shuttle lobs up, but Sindhu returns it somehow – only for Akane to smash it to the open court. The Japanese sends the shuttle wide then. It’s all level now!
Game 3, Sindhu 5 - 3 Yamaguchi: Sindhu is definitely the more tired, but Yamaguchi is moving around like the energizer bunny she usually is either. 3 points on the trot for the Japanese, but Sindhu bucks the trend with a lucky net chord! Geez,that was close.
Game 3, Sindhu 3 - 0 Yamaguchi: Shades of Glasgow, shades of Okuhara. The first two points of the decider are both long rallies and Sindhu wins them both, showing good patience to stay in the points, instead of forcing the pace. She’s on her knees after the second point, resembling that iconic pose in Glasgow, folded in half. The third point is a lengthy affair too, and this time it’s an error from Akane. Good start.
Game 2 to Yamaguchi, 21-12! Sindhu was never in the second half of that game, it was all Akane. The game ends with one rim shot and another judgement error by Sindhu, as a Yamaguchi overhead lands well in. Yamaguchi has definitely stepped up the pace here. She is bouncing around the court and Sindhu looks clearly tired as Yamaguchi earns 8 game points in the second game
Game 2, Sindhu 12 - 19 Yamaguchi: Sindhu is going to need a dramatic turnaround to win the second game. She’s simply all over the place, missing seemingly simple points.
Game 2, Sindhu 12 - 16 Yamaguchi: Oh dear! Gopichand is urging Sindhu to calm down. There was a rally that was there for the taking for PV as she had Akane run all around, playing the lifts well. But a drop from the Japanese, with the court open, is sent wide.
Sindhu definitely needs to find another gear now and go for winners. Allowing Yamaguchi to dictate the game would only mean that the Japanese will keep tightening the noose around the Indian one stroke at a time
Game 2, Sindhu 11 - 15 Yamaguchi: Errors from both players now. Akane cannot believe it when she sent a simple drop wide by trying to be too intricate. Sindhu promptly sends a shuttle high and wide after that. Yamaguchi is repeatedly attacking that forehand lift of Sindhu with drop shots.
Game 2, Sindhu 9 - 11 Yamaguchi: Oh dear! A service error by Sindhu gives the Japanese the lead during the mid-game interval. Wonder what Gopichand would have told her? This is a very crucial phase in the game.
Game 2, Sindhu 8 - 10 Yamaguchi: Four straight points for Akane! A lengthy rally yet again ends with a short lift by Sindhu that the Japanese returns with ferocity, as Sindhu starts to show first signs of tiredness. Yamaguchi is beginning to rest Sindhu’s endurance. The Japanese will now try to keep moving the Indian all around the court and force her to stretch for every shuttle. The ploy has worked so far as she takes the lead in the second game for the first time
Game 2, Sindhu 8 - 8 Yamaguchi: Akane’s strategy now is to move Sindhu back and forth, as she mixes up the drop shots and lifts. Sindhu managing well so far, with one excellent judgement call at the baseline. But Akane gets a couple of points back to remain within touching distance. At 8-7, Akane converts a long rally with a body smash at Sindhu.
This is not over yet.
Game 2, Sindhu 7 - 3 Yamaguchi: Akane’s first point of the game is a service fault by Sindhu! Chants of “Sindhu, Sindhu!” rings around the arena. She pounces after a strong down the line smash to Akane’s forehand and takes a healthy lead. The commentator says its desperate times for Yamaguchi and she’s right.
Game 2, Sindhu 5 - 0 Yamaguchi: She’s racing ahead. A combination of fierce smashes and deft touches to start the second game. The fifth point is a beauty – a long rally where both players stay patient, moving around the court, exchanging some deft touches at the net. Sindhu’s lift though is netted by Akane and she has a 5 point lead.
Sindhu has varied the pace very well in the first game and those quick points from 14-13 should provide her the momentum going in to the second game. She needs to start well though to keep up the pressure on Yamaguchi.
First game analysis: Sindhu was smart to change suddenly change the pace after a neck-and-neck start (she was 5-8 down at one point) and go for quick winners down the line to unsettle Yamaguchi. She will have to keep varying the pace in the second game as well since allowing Yamaguchi to settle into a rhythm can be detrimental. But so far so good for Sindhu!
Game 1 to PV Sindhu! 21 - 15 in 23 minutes: Yamaguchi saves two game points but Sindhu pockets the opening game 21-15 with a smash down the middle and follows that up with a purposeful fist bump. This is excellent stuff from the Indian, after a tight start.
Game 1, Sindhu 20 - 15 Yamaguchi: Sindhu is surprising Yamaguchi with quick attacks and they are really coming off. Its 20-13 after Yamaguchi had closed the game to 14-13, with a couple of powerful smashes. 7 game point opportunities, but Akane saves two of them.
Game 1, Sindhu 18 - 13 Yamaguchi: She’s running away with it now! Reestablishes a 5-point lead after Akane made it 14-13 at one point. Sindhu’s hand-speed has been phenomenal all week and it’s the same today as well, as she goes on the rampage after that mini referral-break.
Game 1, Sindhu 14 - 11 Yamaguchi: Sindhu is not quite good with the challenges is she? Almost uses them as a tactic to take a breather than with any conviction of overturning a call. She looks fine fitness-wise so far.
Game 1, Sindhu 13 - 10 Yamaguchi: Make that eight straight points for Sindhu, as she starts off where she left before the break. Yamaguchi then fights back with two points.
Game 1, Sindhu 11 - 8 Yamaguchi: Six straight points for Sindhu! Another long rally to follow that 33-shot one, that ends with Akane netting the shuttle. And a couple of short points follow as Sindhu takes the lead in the break.
The match is being played at a very high pace and Yamaguchi is going to be pushing Sindhu even further. She will have to be smart with altering the pace of these rallies.
Game 1, Sindhu 8 - 8 Yamaguchi: What a rally! Sindhu had opportunities to finish the point off early but Akane’s defence is on point. And then it’s Sindhu’s turn to defend, before she finishes the point off with a deft drop into the open court. Great badminton, from both.
Game 1, Sindhu 7 - 8 Yamaguchi: The net is Japanese today it would seem. Yamaguchi plays a drop at the end of a long rally, and it kisses the net and falls on the other side, with Sindhu on her knees. Akane follows that up with a decisive smash. No net chord favours off the two next points, as Sindhu lets out a “yes!”, as she closes the gap.
Game 1, Sindhu 5 - 5 Yamaguchi: As expected, Yamaguchi is targetting Sindhu’s left hand corner with cross court drops. Some decisive defending by Sindhu sees her pull things back, to level things in the first game.
Game 1, Sindhu 2 - 4 Yamaguchi: 4 straight points from Yamaguchi as the world No 2 starts dictating the pace. A couple of errors from Sindhu , followed by an error of judgement at her baseline and then a lucky net chord for the Japanese.
Game 1, Sindhu 2 - 0 Yamaguchi: A powerful smash by Sindhu to earn the first point of the match after a long-ish rally, followed by Yamaguchi sending the shuttle wide. Good start for Sindhu.
03:40 pm: We are all set folks. PV Sindhu to start things off. The crowd on her side today without a doubt. And play!
03:30 pm: The Field’s senior badminton correspondent Abhijeet Kulkarni previews the title clash
PV Sindhu is just one match away from turning 2017 from being one of her best years on the international badminton circuit to, in fact, the best.
The 22-year-old has already won two Superseries titles this year apart from bagging the World Championship silver, having lost a marathon final against Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara. And the world No 3 will have another shuttler from the land of the Rising Sun to counter on Sunday as she chases the year-ending BWF World Superseries Finals title in Dubai.
Sindhu has a 4-2 lead in the head-to-head between the two and completely decimated the Japanese in the last Group encounter in Dubai.
But it would be fool-hardy to judge the form book or Sindhu’s chances in the final on the basis of that encounter in which it was pretty clear that Yamaguchi wasn’t really looking for a slug-fest.
Read more here:
03:25 pm: Moments away from the start, as the presentation ceremony for the mixed doubles final takes place.
Meanwhile, relive Sindhu’s previous four Major finals this year. Some absolute epics in there!
03:20 pm: The first match is over, and that means it is soon time for Sindhu and Yamaguchi to take the court.
03:05 pm: Hello all and welcome to the live blog of the women’s singles final at the Dubai World Superseries Finals! It’s the final match of the badminton calendar and PV Sindhu has a chance to cap a fabulous 2017 with an icing on the cake. And standing in her way is the top seed at the tournament, World No 2 Akane Yamaguchi. This promises to be a ripper!