Saina, Srikanth enter semifinals

Prannoy, Gurusaidutt make exit

Saina, Srikanth enter semifinals

Lin Dan wearily cast a glance to his right. The capacity crowd which had been behind him, had suddenly turned its attention on HS Prannoy. The Indian was cruising through in the first game against Dane Viktor Axelsen. “Super Dan”, on the other hand, was battling to stay in contention against Tommy Sugiarto. Both lost, eventually.

The quarterfinals of the Yonex Sunrise India Open brought a series of heartbreaks for the home favourites on Friday. Top seed in women singles Saina Nehwal, however, lifted the spirits when she made it to her maiden semifinals here with a 21-15, 21-12 victory over Indonesian Hana Ramadhini. She is now a step away from becoming the new World No 1.
Saina plays Japan’s Yui Hashimoto in the semifinal.

Second-seeded Kidambi Srikanth brought more cheer in the evening when he eked out a hard-fought 21-15, 23-25, 21-18 win against Japan’s Takuma Ueda.

Before him, RMV Gurusaidutt, Pronnoy and Dan were conjointly in action on adjacent courts. Gurusaidutt had raised the excitement when he took away the first game from the Chinese qualifier Xue Song. But Song, who had beaten Parupalli Kashyap in the second round and now plays Srikanth in the semifinals, clawed his way back for a 15-21, 21-18, 21-13 victory.

Five-time world champion Dan, seeded third, was packed off by a determined Sugiarto who won 21-17, 15-21, 21-17. Dan's brilliance was evident, though, only in flashes.

Trailing 11-15 in the decider, the legendary Chinese grabbed four sublime points to level the scores and even led 16-15 but fell to a rash of errors. Sugiarto only had to keep the shuttle in play and sunk to his knees when Dan crashed his return on the net on match point. On his way back, Dan made a quick wave to the crowd who had been incessantly chanting his name.

For Sugiarto it was the first win over Dan in four meeting and he admitted that the Chinese exhibited loss of concentration in the final game. Nonetheless he called it was “one of the best wins of my career”.

“You know Lin Dan is a legend in badminton. The crowd was backing him so I had to motivate myself and concentrate point after point,” said Sugiartio, who since the last two months had been coaching under his father Icuk Sugiarto, a former World Champion.

Sugiarto now faces sixth-seed Axelsen of Denmark who doused a spirited performance from Prannoy for a 16-21, 21-9, 21-18 victory. At six feet five, Axelsen has tremendous reach on both flanks alongwith a solid defense. After the first game, he returned with a change in tactics. He dictated the pace of the rallies by mixing his soft returns and net dribbles and sharp smashes. Prannoy, who had shocked top seed Jan O Jorgensen on Thursday, did his best but couldn’t go beyond saving two out of the four match points.
DH News Service

Results: Quarterfinals (Indians unless mentioned): Men’s singles: 8-Tommy Sugiarto (Ina) bt 3-Lin Dan 21-17, 15-21, 21-17; Xue Song (Chn) bt RMV Gurusaidutt 15-21, 21-18, 21-13; 6-Viktor Axelsen (Den) bt HS Prannoy (Ind) 16-21, 21-9, 21-18; 2-K Srikanth bt Takuma Ueda (Jon) 21-15, 23-25, 21-18.

Women’s singles: 1-Saina Nehwal bt Hana Ramadhini (Ina) 21-15, 21-12; 3-Ratchanok Intanon (Thai) bt Yao Xue (Chn) 21-14, 21-8; 2-Carolina Marin (Esp) bt 6-Nozomi Okuhara (Jpn) 21-15, 17-21, 21-15; Yui Hashimoto (Jpn) bt 7-Yip Pui Yin (Hkg) 20-22, 21-15, 21-17.

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