P V Sindhu defeats World no. 1 Akane Yamaguchi, reaches Thailand Open semifinal

P V Sindhu
Image Courtesy: PTI

After a nail biting back and forth contest against world no 1 shuttler Akane Yamaguchi, Indian badminton icon P V Sindhu has made it to the semifinal round of the ongoing Thailand Open tournament.

Sindhu, who came off a dominating 21-16, 21-13 victory against Korea’s Sim Yu Jin, faced her longtime Japanese rival in the last eight outing on Friday. The sixth seeded Indian produced a 21-15, 20-22, 21-13 victory in 51 minutes over Yamaguchi to sail into the last four, where she will take on Chinese shuttler and reigning Olympic champion Chen Yu Fei.

With Friday’s victory, Sindhu marked her 14th win over Yamaguchi. Their last encounter, which took place at the Asian Championships, ended in controversy due to Sindhu being penalised for wasting time and Yamaguchi picking up a 13-21, 21-19, 21-16 victory. The pair have now met 23 times, with Sindhu leading 14-9 head to head.

Sindhu took the lead in the first game, starting at 11-9 at the break with Yamaguchi wasting her three point lead. The Japanese did break ahead on five points but Sindhu bounced back with seven straight points, making it 19-14 before taking home the first game 21-15.

The second game saw a more composed approach from Yamaguchi as Sindhu took a 11-5 lead at the break, before being called for a service fault as her opponent muscled into a 16-all tie, before edging out the second game 22-20 as the match went into the decider.

In the decider, Sindhu went into the interval on a four point lead while Yamaguchi was seemingly facing issue with her back which impacted her strokeplay but clawed her way into making it 11-13, but the Indian took control of the match, scoring seven of the last eight points and earning eight match points in the process, before finishing the game 21-13 and taking home the win.

In the last four, Sindhu’s opponent will be Tokyo 2020 gold medallist Chen Yu Fei, currently ranked fourth in the world.

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