World No 2 Akane Yamaguchi beat the third-ranked PV Sindhu in a pulsating All England Open semi-final in Birmingham on Saturday. The Japanese won 19-21, 21-19, 21-18 after an hour and 19 minutes. She will now take on world No 1 Tai Tzu Ying in the final on Sunday.
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And that’s how it ended: 19-21, 21-19, 21-18 to the Japanese in one hour and 19 minutes.
What a fascinating match! Akane Yamaguchi will now take on world No 1 Tai Tzu Ying in the final on Sunday. But spare a thought for Sindhu! She played her fourth back-to-back three-game match and almost managed to nick it. However, she will rue allowing Yamaguchi come back into the match in the last quarter of the first game. That seemed to turn the momentum in the Japanese’s favour.
Yamaguchi wins the third game 21-18! She has won the match!
It’s all over! Yamaguchi wins four straight points from being 17-18 down to take the decider and the match!
Third game, Sindhu 18-20 Yamaguchi
Yamaguchi has two match-point opportunities! Is it all over for Sindhu?
Third game, Sindhu 17-17 Yamaguchi
Sindhu misses a simple tap-in at the net and it’s all square again in the decider. If she had won that, she would have opened up a two-point lead and at this stage that would have been vital.
Third game, Sindhu 16-15 Yamaguchi
Yamaguchi is on the floor as Sindhu wins a superb rally. Still just one point separating the two!
Third game, Sindhu 14-14 Yamaguchi
It’s all level in the deciding game! Yamaguchi has won seven of the last eight points!
Third game, Sindhu 13-11 Yamaguchi
Another exhausting rally – the longest of the match so far at 51 shots – is won by Yamaguchi and the pressure is again on Sindhu. Yamaguchi wins four straight points. The rallies are bound to get longer as we near the end. Does Sindhu have enough juice left?
Third game, Sindhu 11-7 Yamaguchi
Sindhu is almost dropping on her knees but she manages to pull out another unplayable down-the-line smash to take a four-point advantage into the interval. The players will switch sides for the final time. Where is this match headed?
Third game, Sindhu 8-6 Yamaguchi
Oooof! Yet another scintillating rally and agains it’s Yamaguchi who comes out on top. The crowd in Birmingham is loving this and why not! That was 44 shots again – equaling the longest rally of the match.
Third game, Sindhu 7-3 Yamaguchi
Sindhu seems to have found her reserve tank and she looks all pumped up in this third game. She’s unleashed a couple of unplayable smashes and has opened up a lead in the decider.
Yamaguchi wins the second game 21-19 and we’re into a decider!
Yamaguchi takes the second game after Sindhu saves one out of two game points. She could have saved a second but the shuttle just tipped over to her side of the net off a Yamaguchi shot. Sindhu looks very exhausted already. Does she have a reserve tank? She’ll need it in this deciding game!
Second game, Sindhu 18-20 Yamaguchi
Getting tired of saying this but we’ve had another superb rally! Unfortunately for Sindhu she hits one wide to give Yamaguchi game point.
Second game, Sindhu 14-16 Yamaguchi
We’ve just had a 44-shot rally! Yes, that’s right! Yamaguchi wins it again before going down on her knees. Sindhu also looks exhausted. She has been on court for over four hours now in this tournament.
Second game, Sindhu 13-14 Yamaguchi
And another amazing rally! Yamaguchi floors Sindhu at the end of it and for a while it looked as if the Indian had hurt herself but she seems to be okay. Hope you’ve got your seat-belts fastened!
Second game, Sindhu 12-12 Yamaguchi
What a rally! Sindhu finally wins a long rally and that was some amazing badminton! Oof! It’s all square again in the second game!
Second game, Sindhu 9-11 Yamaguchi
Yamaguchi takes a two-point advantage into the mid-game interval and while that may not be so much, she is beginning to look very dangerous. She’s a completely different animal to the one we saw in the first three-quarters of that first game. Sindhu has been made to move around quite a bit in these last few minutes.
Second game, Sindhu 8-9 Yamaguchi
Another long rally and again it’s Yamaguchi who wins the point. Sindhu needs to find a way to win some herself as there are bound to be many more.
Second game, Sindhu 3-4 Yamaguchi
We’ve had another super rally to begin the second game and Yamaguchi wins it again. The Japanese’s deceptive game is in full flow right now and she is making Sindhu cover all corners of the court with diagonal shots.
Sindhu wins the first game 21-19!
Sindhu manages to take the first game 21-19 but this has been a remarkable fightback by Yamaguchi in the second half of the first game. This match isn’t over yet!
First game, Sindhu 17-16 Yamaguchi
We’ve had the first great rally of the match, lasting 33 shots, and Yamaguchi wins it to reduce her deficit to just one point. Wow! She was eight behind not too long ago!
First game, Sindhu 17-15 Yamaguchi
Yamaguchi shows some signs of recovery in the latter stages of the first game as she reduces her deficit to just two points!
First game, Sindhu 16-8 Yamaguchi
Yamaguchi making some uncharacteristic errors as Sindhu manages to keep the tempo in the second half of the first game. This match is zipping through so far.
First game, Sindhu 11-5 Yamaguchi
Sindhu is in a hurry to finish and leave the arena! She is hurtling down the smashes and not letting Yamaguchi control the rallies. Sindhu gifted a couple of unforced errors to Yamaguchi but the Indian still takes a 11-5 lead into the interval.
First game, Sindhu 7-1 Yamaguchi
Sindhu is super aggressive from the word go and she wins the first six points of the first game before Yamaguchi can pull one back. Yamaguchi looks a bit frazzled already. Can’t seem to get a grip. What a start by Sindhu!
And it’s almost time! The players are on court! Grab your popcorn, folks!
Whoever wins this match will take on world No 1 Tai Tzu Ying in the final. And that result is almost a foregone conclusion. Tai Tzu looks just unstoppable right now. Here are highlights of her semi-final against Chen Yufei, who tried her best:
Less than five minutes to go now. As we wait for the players to take court, here is how both have fared so far in this tournament:
Less than 10 minutes to go before the players take the court. Sindhu has already been on court in this tournament for 206 minutes, or three hours and 26 minutes, over three matches. She has played three-gamers against all her opponents so far.
Yamaguchi, on the other hand, will be a lot fresher. She has been on court for only two hours and seven minutes over three matches so far.
If you missed Sindhu’s epic quarter-final against – who else – Nozomi Okuhara, Abhijeet Kulkarni provides a recap here. Sindhu and Okuhara have somehow mastered the art of playing out humdingers every time they face off on the international stage, and Friday’s match was no less.
Hello and welcome to The Field’s live blog of the All England Open women’s singles semi-final between PV Sindhu and Akane Yamaguchi.
The two shuttlers, ranked No 3 and No 2 in the world, had clashed in a memorable summit match of the Dubai World Superseries Finals in December, which Yamaguchi won 21-15, 12-21, 19-21. However, Sindhu had got the better of the Japanese at the Badminton Asia Team Championships last month, beating her in straight games 21-19, 21-15.
Overall, Sindhu leads their head-to-head record 6-3.
In the first women’s singles semi-final, world No 1 Tai Tzu Ying beat China’s Chen Yufei 21-15, 20-22, 21-13 in a match that lasted over an hour.