B Sai Praneeth reached his second semi-final of the year with a straight-games win over Indonesia’s Tommy Sugiarto, while PV Sindhu suffered her second successive loss against Akane Yamaguchi to be knocked out of the Japan Open Super 750 badminton tournament at the quarter-final stage.
India suffered heartbreak in men’s doubles as well, with Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty losing 21-19, 21-18 against Takeshi Kamura and Keigo Sonoda. The Japanese second seeds needed just 41 minutes to book their place in the semi-finals.
The 26-year-old Sai Praneeth needed just 36 minutes to defeat Sugiarto 21-12, 21-15 and set up a semi-final clash against local favourite and top seed Kento Momota, who got the better of Anthony Ginting 21-13, 20-22, 21-15 in an hour and 30 minutes.
However, all Indian eyes were probably on Sindhu as she attempted to avenge the Indonesia Open Super 1000 final loss against Yamaguchi on the latter’s home turf.
Sindhu started strong when she opened up a 9-4 lead in the opening game and looked good to make a match of it when she held a 12-7 lead. But Yamaguchi changed the tempo of the match by clinching four straight points thereafter before taking the lead at 16-14 with another run of five straight points.
The Japanese controlled the rallies well and every time Sindhu increased the pressure with her big smashes and quality drops, Yamaguchi managed to come out of the tight situations with her incredible defence and ability to run down every shuttle.
Sindhu did manage to save two game points with her powerful smashes but that was too little, too late.
Yamaguchi was the first to get off the blocks in the second game before Sindhu managed to draw level at 6-6 with a flurry of cross-court smash winners to the Japanese’s backhand.
However, everything went downhill for the Indian from thereon as Yamaguchi stepped on the gas, testing Sindhu’s defensive skills and also mental resolve to stage a fight back. Both these aspects of the India’s game were found wanting as the Japanese set up a semi-final clash against Chen Yufei of China.
The other semi-final will see former world champion Nozomi Okuhara take on Michelle Li as the Canadian upset world number one Tai Tzu Ying 21-15, 15-21, 22-20 after saving a match point in the decider.