Sindhu Takes on Marin at 1:30pm in Badminton World C’Ships Final
For a second straight year, PV Sindhu will be fighting for the gold medal at the Badminton World Championships, having beaten Japan's Akane Yamaguchi in the women's singles semi-final in Nanjing on Saturday.
World number three Sindhu, who had finished runners-up at the Glasgow edition last year after losing to another Japanese Nozomi Okuhara in an epic summit showdown, beat world number two Yamaguchi 21-16, 24-22 in a 55-minute hard-fought match.
Sindhu entered the match with a 6-4 head-to-head record against Yamaguchi, who had defeated the Indian in big-ticket events such as All England Championship this year and Dubai Super Series Final last year. The duo faced off twice this year with each registering a win.
Sindhu vs Marin Next
The 23-year-old from Hyderabad, who also won two bronze medals in 2013 and 2014, will face Olympic champion and former two-time gold medallist Carolina Marin of Spain on Sunday.
Marin had robbed Sindhu off a gold medal at the Rio Olympics after defeating the Indian in the summit clash. Overall, the players share a 6-6 head-to-head record with Sindhu having beaten Marin in their last encounter at the Malaysia Open this June.
Marin beat Chinese eighth seed He Bingjiao 13-21 21-16 21-13 to make her third World Championship final.
A Come-From-Behind Win Against Yamaguchi
Sindhu looked a bit nervous and took time to get into the groove, resulting in Yamaguchi racing away to a 5-0 lead. The Indian earned the first point with a precise smash but a couple of wide strokes on both sides of the court helped the Japanese move to 6-3. At 4-8, Sindhu reeled off five straight points to grab a 9-8 lead. However, the Japanese managed to hold a slender 11-10 lead at the break after Sindhu failed to cross the net.
After the breather, Sindhu stepped up her retrieving skills and covered the court better as Yamaguchi tried to put the shuttle close to the lines and ended up committing many unforced errors.
At 10-12, Sindhu rode on eight straight points to reach 18-12. However, she went out twice and also sent the shuttle long once to allow Yamaguchi make a recovery.
However, the Indian eventually grabbed four game points after capitalising on a weak return from the Japanese and converted it immediately when Yamaguchi faltered at the forecourt.
Just like the opening game, Sindhu again lagged 2-6 initially in the second game, before the Indian managed to reduce the gap to 7-8. But after Sindhu went out Yamaguchi unleashed a whipping cross court smash and one at the back court to move to the interval with a 11-7 advantage.
The Japanese extended the lead to 14-9 with two precise smashes. But she went long thrice after that and Sindhu too found the net twice. It was 16-12 advantage for Yamaguchi at that point. Sindhu then scripted an incredible recovery from 12-19, reeling off eight straight points to grab one match point. Yamaguchi saved one before holding a game point herself. However, the Japanese goofed up during the serve to squander her advantage.
After another intense rally, Yamaguchi went long to hand over Sindhu a second match point but what ensued next was the longest rally of the contest, comprising 41 shots, which ended with Sindhu hitting wide. However, Yamaguchi hit wide again to gift Sindhu her third match point and this time she converted it after the Japanese went wide again.