World championship silver medallist PV Sindhu outplayed familiar foe Nozomi Okuhara in straight games to reach the semi-finals of the Indonesia Open Super 1000 tournament in Jakarta on Friday.
The fifth seed Indian, who had a head-to-head record of 7-7 against the Japanese before this match, was too hot to handle for the former world champion as she raced to a 21-14, 21-7 win in just 44 minutes to set up a last four encounter against second seed Chen Yufei of China.
If one thought that the Sindhu-Okuhara encounter could be another slug-fest with both players engaging each other in long rallies, the initial exchanges probably just confirmed that assertion. The duo played out one of the longest rallies of the match on the eighth point of the opening game and the Japanese managed to come out triumphant, inducing a simple error from the Indian.
Though it was Okuhara who always got the better of her opponent in the longer rallies in those first few exchanges, Sindhu showed the required intent to go for the kill at the net every time there was an opportunity, thereby not allowing the Japanese to suck her into the toss-drop routines.
Okuhara, however, found a way to close the gap at 10-8 after Sindhu had taken five straight points but the Indian simply changed the tempo after the break. Okuhara struggling to control her toss and drives on the opponent’s back hand also played into the Indian’s hands as she pocketed the opening game rather easily in the end.
It was more of the same when they switched ends.
The second was hardly a contest once Sindhu opened up a 6-1 lead and ensured that Okuhara never got control of the net exchanges. The Indian was quick to move in to the net and stand big, forcing Okuhara to lift the shuttle for an easy kill. That only forced the Japanese to make more errors.
Having gone into a break with 11-6 lead, the 24-year-old Indian clinched 10 points in a row from 11-7 to wrap up the game and the match in less than 45 minutes.
Sindhu is looking for her first title in 2019 and she will face a tough challenge from Chen, who beat Beiwen Zhang in the other quarter-final. Akane Yamaguchi and Tai Tzu Ying (fourth and first seeds respectively) will contest the other semi-final.