Basel, August 24
PV Sindhu stands one win away from an elusive World Championships gold after entering the third successive final of badminton’s showpiece event, but B Sai Praneeth had to settle for bronze following his defeat to Kento Momota.
Sindhu, who had claimed successive silver medals in the last two editions of the event, beside two bronze before that, outclassed world No. 3 Chen Yufei of China 21-7 21-14 in their 40-minute semifinal.
The 24 year-old Olympics silver medallist will face 2017 champion Nozomi Okuhara of Japan in the summit clash on Sunday.
However, Praneeth’s impressive run ended after his attacking game couldn’t dent the defence of in-form defending champion Momota, the Indian going down 13-21 8-21 to the world No. 1 in only 41 minutes.
Sindhu was dominant from the start, quickly taking an 8-3 lead. The Indian star was 11-3 up when the two players went into the first break, after Chen hit a forehand wide. A few points later, Sindhu had 14 game points at 20-6. Chen saved one game point but Sindhu sealed the game with her second attempt. In the second game, the scores were level in initially but Sindhu pulled away after 6-5. Sindhu exploited a weakness on the backhand side of Chen to lead 11-7 at the breather. A desperate Chen committed too many unforced errors as Sindhu jumped to a 17-9 lead in a jiffy. The Indian eventually grabbed eight match points with a crosscourt smash. Chen saved a couple of them before hitting long again as Sindhu celebrated.
In the men’s singles semifinals, Praneeth opened up a slender 5-3 lead initially. However, Momota turned the tables by entering the interval with a small 11-10 advantage. The left-handed Japanese reeled off four points to surge to 15-10. At 12-18, the Indian found the net thrice to hand over the opening game to the Japanese. In the second game, the Japanese quickly jumped to 9-2 and then grabbed an 11-3 advantage in the mid-game interval.
At 15-5, Momota made a rare error when he sent the shuttle long but his quick backhand reflexes near the net earned him the serve again.
A crosscourt smash at Praneeth’s backhand took Momota to 19-8 and he had 12 match points when the Indian hit the net again. Praneeth then went wide, paving the way for Momota’s march into another final. — PTI
5-3 Head-to-head advantage for Sindhu against Chen Yufei before the semifinal match
I was well prepared and from the start I was in the lead and then finished it off. In the second game, I made some unforced errors and then I was leading again and it gave me my confidence. Overall, the game went well and I hope it goes well tomorrow. — PV Sindhu
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