All England Open: Sindhu eyes final berth

Lynette Rowe
March 18, 2018

Akane Yamaguchi was talking about the turning point in her pulsating semifinal victory PV Sindhu, a match where both players mesmerized and wooed the crowd with the highest quality of badminton.

India's ace shuttler PV Sindhu will be up against Akane Yamaguchi of Japan in the semis of the All England Open.

"I think I have got a lot of things to learn from this tournament".

Great start from Sindhu. I was just thinking about the next point as I was trailing and I had to remain focussed on each point. "We were bit unlucky today", Chirag said. It will an interesting second game. Two of the most consistent and best women's badminton players pitted against each other. She and Birmingham - as did most of England - had woken up watching snow flakes floating.

Sindhu made an aggressive start to take a 5-0 lead. Astonishingly, the match was barely a minute old.

"I am coming to the point where I can play my game and my knee is kind of ok, but it is not 100% yet". "We had to give our best", Sindhu said.

The Japanese was struggling to keep the shuttle inside the court in the starting minutes.

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Sindhu then lost two successive challenges after her and Okuhara's shots went wide as the Japanese earned the bragging rights. She did all that to have the upperhand straightaway.

In the decider, Prannoy surged to a massive 10-3 lead early on to conjure up hopes of a win but a gritty Huang slowly and steadily crafted his way back to catch up at 19-19.

At the break, Okuhara held a one point lead after Sindhu went wide again. A battle of nerve ensued and it was the Chinese who had the last laugh in the end. She leads opening game 20-18.

Two points for Yamaguchi. But she was handed a yellow card for slow play. After few minutes Sindhu clutched a massive game point advantage with a tricky return at 20-13.

Seventh-seeded Okuhara used long tosses and clears and cross court drops to make Sindhu run around the court. Sindhu loses in the semi-finals. She won the first game nevertheless, credits to some handsome drop shots. Sindhu leads 11-7 at the change of ends. Okuhara missed the line next and then one went to net as it was 18-18 again. She won back-to-back points and makes it 18-19 against Yamaguchi. Sindhu had tried everything, smashes, pushes, good lifts, but the one thing Yamaguchi had done well was to stay calm. She draws level 17-17 in the opening game.

The Japanese shuttler defeated Sindhu 19-21, 21-19, 21-18 to book her berth for the final where she will take on World No. 1 Tai Tzu Ying. "I had to control those errors", Sindhu said after the win.

Yamaguchi smiled while acknowledging the healthy Indian presence in the 6,000-strong arena.

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