Sindhu beats Yamaguchi; to face An Seyoung in BWF World Tour Finals summit clash

Two-time Olympic medallist P V Sindhu beat Japan’s Akane Yamaguchi 21-15, 15-21, 21-19 in 70 minutes in the semifinal of the BWF World Tour Finals in Bali on Saturday.

Sindhu, who is also the reigning world champion, will face South Korea’s An Seyoung in the summit clash on Sunday. An Seyoung defeated Thailand’s Pornpawee Chochuwong 25-23, 21-17 in the first semifinal.

Sindhu started the match with an error of judgment and a couple of shots that went wide as Yamaguchi quickly took a 4-0 lead in the opening game. The Indian followed it up by winning five straight points as she began to dictate the rallies.

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World number seven Sindhu entered the mid-game interval with a slender lead of two points. After the break, she stretched it to four at 18-14 before eventually closing the game down at 21-15.

In the second game, no player could initially dominate the other and Yamaguchi led by just a single point at the halfway stage. World number three Yamaguchi resumed by engaging Sindhu into longer rallies and tiring her out to wrap up the game by the same score of 21-15 and forced the match into a deciding third game.

Final game followed a similar script as the first two as both Sindhu and Yamaguchi were tied at 5-5 but then, the Indian unleashed a couple of delightful slices and cross court smashes, taking six points in a row to lead by 11-5 at the final change of ends.

Yamaguchi kept chipping away at Sindhu’s lead and won seven of the next 11 points to pull things back at 12-15 as the match duration touched the hour mark. Soon, she restored parity at 17-17 as a seemingly nervous Sindhu kept missing the lines.

At 18-18, Yamaguchi deceived Sindhu with a drop shot from the back of the court to move ahead but Sindhu straight away brought the tie back on level terms with a cross court smash.

The Japanese player’s shot hit the net in the next rally to provide Sindhu with a match point opportunity which she duly converted with another smash and let out a huge roar in celebration.

This was the 21st meeting between Sindhu and her Japanese opponent and after Saturday’s win, Sindhu leads the head-to-head record by 13-8.

In the last match of the day, Lakshya Sen will be up against reigning Olympic champion Viktor Axelsen in the men’s singles semifinal.

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