Nanjing (China), August 3
Star Indian shuttler PV Sindhu beat Nozomi Okuhara of Japan in straight games to cruise into the semifinals and assure herself of a medal in the World Championships here on Friday.
Sindhu defeated Okuhara 21-17 21-19 in a 58-minute quarterfinal match to set up a semifinal clash against World No. 2 and another Japanese Akane Yamaguchi tomorrow.
The World No. 3 Indian produced a dominant display against her World No. 6 rival as she avenged her defeat in the last edition summit clash.
In both the games today, Okuhara led initially but Sindhu was able to come back to take the honours.
Sindhu had lost to Okuhara in the final last year 19-21 22-20 20-22 but today, it was the India who got the upper hand throughout the match.
The win by Sindhu meant that the head-to-head record between the two is now levelled at 6-6.
After the World Championships final last year, they had played five times against each other, including today, and Sindhu have won three of them as against two by Okuhara.
This will be Sindhu’s fourth medal from the World Championships as she has already won two bronze and a silver.
Saina Nehwal’s impressive run, however, came to a disappointing end at the World Championships as she suffered a straight-game loss to two-time champion Carolina Marin.
In the men’s qurterfinals, B Sai Praneeth was no match to Kento Momota of Japan as he lost 12-21 12-21 in just 39 minutes.
Mixed doubles pair of Ashwini Ponnappa and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy also couldn’t cross the quarterfinal hurdle, losing 17-21 10-21 to top seeds Zheng Siwei and Huang Yaqiong of China.
In the Saina vs Marin match, it turned out to be a lop-sided contest between the 2015 edition finalists as reigning Olympic champion Spanish once again produced her ‘A’ game on the big occasion to complete an emphatic 21-6 21-11 victory.
A 5-4 head-to-head count meant little as Marin dismantled Saina with consummate ease. The Spaniard stamped her authority on the match, parading the court and screaming her heart out after winning every point.
“Her movement was very quick today. She was moving so fast and covering the court very quickly. The kind of shots that she played, it seemed like she was suddenly very fast. Also I had a late match yesterday so to face someone so quick was difficult. I didn’t understand what to do, she never gave me a chance to play my game,” Saina told reporters.
Marin said: “I’m doing well since first day. I was in control today. I’m the fastest in the world, it is my strength and I have to keep doing it. I am happy to reach the semifinal. The favouite player (Tai Tzu Ying) to win the tournament lost today, so ll try to give best tomorrow against China’s He Bingjiao.”
Marin played a perfect game to bamboozle Saina in the opening game. The left-handed shuttler took just 12 minutes to race away with the game after earning 14 game points when Saina failed to retrieve a shot. The Spaniard closed it with a smash from close to the net.
Saina showed better fight in the early stages of the second game but Marin managed an 11-8 advantage at the break. The Spaniard stifled Saina with her stroke play and placement to surge ahead.
Marin gained 10 match points when Saina found the net and the Spaniard closed the match when the Indian went long again. — PTI
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