World Badminton: Sindhu in semis, Srikanth loses
Sindhu, a silver medallist at the Rio Olympics, assured herself of at least a bronze with a clinical display against world number six Chinese Sun Yu.
The 22-year-old, who has won a bronze at the 2013 and 2014 editions, disposed off Sun Yu 21-14, 21-9 in 39 minutes at the Emirates Arena.
The world No. 4 Indian will next take on another Chinese – world No. 10 Chen Yufei, who saw off former world champion Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand.
Earlier, Srikanth went down fighting 14-21, 18-21 to world No. 1 Son Wan Ho of Korea in men’s singles competition.
Srikanth had emerged as India’s best bet at the event after clinching back-to-back titles at Indonesia and Australia and a final finish at the Singapore Open.
The 24-year-old from Guntur had come into the match with twin victories over Son Wan in June at the Indonesia Open Super Series Premier and Australia Open Super Series but it counted for little as the Korean dished out a near-perfect game to outclass the Indian in a 49-minute clash.
Among other top shuttlers, Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen, five-time champion Lin Dan also reached the semi-finals in men’s singles.
Sindhu dished out an aggressive game and never looked in doubt as she led from start to finish during the 39-minute lop-sided match. Sun, on the other hand, looked out of sorts and nervous.
In the first game, Sindhu led 5-4, which she extended to 8-4. The duo then engaged in one of the longest rallies that had 39 shots. Sindhu eventually sealed it with a half cross court smash and quickly grabbed a 11-4 lead at the break when Sun made a wrong judgement at the baseline.
Playing the faster side of the court, Sindhu tried to make her opponent bend and move across the court with her acute-angled strokes. She sometimes used her deception and changed her pace to outwit the Chinese.
The result was Sindhu quickly moved to 15-5 lead. Sun reduced the margin to 10-16 but Sindhu eventually earned seven game points with a smart return at the forecourt that left her opponent stranded.
Sindhu faltered with a return before sealing the first game with a lovely drop shot.
The second game started with another long rally which Sindhu won with an onrushing body smash. The Indian continued to pile on the pressure to lead 11-4 at the interval.
The breather didn’t bring any respite for Sun as Sindhu moved to 18-8. Frustration was clear on the face of Sun, who tried her bit to upstage the Indian but Sindhu seemed to have all the answers as she reached 11 match points with a low cross court flick. She sealed the contest when Sun went long once again.
Srikanth, on the other hand, made a nervy start to the quarter-finals, allowing Son Wan to open up a 6-1 lead early on but the Indian slowly got his bearing as he made it 5-6. His movement improved and his trade mark smashes helped him to make it 8-8.
However, Son Wan managed to move ahead and a return from Srikanth going to net helped the Korean to have the 11-8 advantage at the first break.
The duo looked to outwit each other by changing the angles and pace of their strokes during the rallies. Srikanth reduced the margin to 12-13 but the Korean once again managed to move up to a 15-12 lead with a deceptive back hand return.
Srikanth’s errors helped Son Wan to move to 19-13. The Korean grabbed six game point opportunity and sealed it when the Indian hit the net twice.
After the change of sides, Srikanth struggled to get his length right and his returns missed the baseline twice. The Indian even lost his left shoe during one of the rallies.
Srikanth struggle with his precision and placement of strokes and it helped Son Wan to eventually enter the breather with a handsome seven-point advantage.
After the break, Srikanth played a good rally with patience and it helped him to win the point but he seemed to go back to his power game, which backfired as the Korean kept moving ahead to 13-5.
Srikanth changed gears then and strengthened his defence to reel off seven straight points, making it 12-16 but Son Wan managed to break the streak with a return that found the Indian short at the forecourt.
The Indian missed the line again and also hit the net to allow Son Wan move to 19-14 advantage.
The Korean misjudged a shuttle to gift a point to Srikanth, who replied with a cross court smash to reduce the deficit to 17-19. Another smash from Srikanth and it was 18- 19.
However, Son Wan grabbed the match point when Srikanth rushed into a shot and hit the net. The Indian once again found the net to hand over the match to the Korean and see his 13-match winning streak lay in tatters.