NEW DELHI: Ace India shuttler PV Sindhu overcame a stiff challenge from the seventh seed Nozomi Okuhara of Japan to book her spot in the women’s singles semi-finals of the 2018 All England Open Championships in Birmingham on Friday.
As it happened: Sindhu vs Okuhara
Sindhu rallied from a game down to beat the Japanese 20-22, 21-18, 21-18 as she made it to the last-four stage of the tournament for the first time. It was a physically exhausting contest which lasted an hour and 24 minutes. It was the third straight three-game affair for Sindhu in the tournament. With this win, Sindhu, TOISA 2018 Badminton Player of the Year, also levelled the head-to-head tally 5-5 against the World No. 6.
The current World No. 3 Sindhu will face another Japanese in second seed Akane Yamaguchi on Saturday for a place in the final. Yamaguchi defeated fifth seed Carolina Marin of Spain 21-15, 21-18 in her last-eight match.
The match started on even terms as Sindhu and Okuhara exchanged early points to be at 3-3. Sindhu briefly held the lead at 6-4 and 8-6, but went into the break trailing 10-11. The lead changed hands regularly and Sindhu got a game point at 20-19 but failed to finish it off. Okuhara then got back her momentum and won the opening game 22-20 in 28 minutes.
The first game gave the clue how the match was going to pan out – a long and tiring neck-and-neck contest.
Sindhu took an early 3-1 lead in the second game but Okuhara bounced back to level the terms. Couple of big smashes followed from Sindhu’s racquet as she regained the lead at 8-6. It was then chair umpire called up the Indian to give her first warning for delaying the proceedings. It did not deter Sindhu much as she went into the break with a slender 11-10 lead, even winning a 24-shot long rally in between.
Okuhara made few unforced errors in quick succession which gave Sindhu a 16-13 lead in the must-win game. But the game went to the wire as the seventh seed Japanese won five consecutive points to claim the lead at 18-16. Sindhu then produce her A-game and won five points on the trot to wrap up the game 21-18 to keep herself alive in the contest.
Okuhara got off the block early in the third game taking a 4-1 lead, but unforced errors started to pile up for the Japanese at the wrong time as Sindhu surged ahead at 10-8. Like the first game, Sindhu went into the break trailing 10-11 after being ahead by few points. The break changed the momentum for Okuhara as she raced to 16-12 lead in the decider. Sindhu bounced back to level it 16-16 and when the score was 17-17 the umpire gave Sindhu a yellow card for delaying the game. But the caution seemed to have worked as an energiser for Sindhu as from 18-all, she made sure that there were no more slip-ups and sealed the game and the match.
Source : timesofindia