Sindhu prevails over Saina

Badminton India Open : Indian ace beats compatriot in straight games to enter semifinal

Sindhu prevails over Saina

 Saina Nehwal has ruled Indian badminton for nearly a decade. During her peak, PV Sindhu was a junior who held the promise of following her iconic footsteps.

But on Friday the youngster, with the high of Olympic silver medal, outgrew from her senior’s shadows. As Saina battles mental and physical barriers to regain her crown, Sindhu is reveling in her prime. And her confidence reflected in her sublime 21-16, 22-20 quarterfinal victory over the former champion at Yonex-Sunrise India Open on Friday.

Though both Sindhu and Saina, five years apart, deny the pressure of facing each other, the fast developing rivalry between the two is rather apparent. The intensity in their clashes is only growing, it is dividing the fans, and enthralling them too. Throughout the 47-minutes battle, there were no friendly exchanges. Each point fought with with certain fervency, the clamorous background resonating the names of Saina and Sindhu heightening the drama.

“It is a good win for me,” Sindhu admitted before adding, “Saina is not something special that I have to win against her. Against each player, I will give 100%.”

Sindhu is also only Indian left in the tournament after Sameer Verma lost 22-24, 19-21 to Dane Anders Antonsen in men’s quarterfinals. Antonsen will play seventh-seeded Chou Tien Chen who beat Hans-Kristian Solberg Vittinghus 21-10, 21-14. In the other men’s quarterfinals, third seed Viktor Axelsen plays Hong Kong’s NG Ka Long Angus. Angus beat Tommy Sugiarto 10-21, 21-15, 21-19,

 Saina began with flourish in both the games, but couldn’t sustain it. Sindhu, empowered by her improved defense, and fitness subdued her. She cleverly mixed her pace and made good use of her reach to blunt Saina’s attack. Chiefly, Sindhu, watched by her coach P. Gopichand from the stands, won points at net dribbles. She caught up with Saina at 7-7 in the first game before leading 11-9 at the interval. On resumption, she rapidly stretched her lead to keep it beyond Saina.

What would hurt Saina, though, was the way she lost the second game where she led till 19-16. However, against mounting pressure, Sindhu reeled three points to level. Saina, pouncing on a tossed up return, held a game point, but made an uncharacteristic service error immediately. Sindhu quickly ran away with the game and the match, finishing it with smash down the line.

“Even when she was leading 20-19, I had the belief that I could pull through,” said Sindhu who next plays second-seeded Korean Sung Ji Hyun. Sung beat Ratchanok Intanon 21-16, 22-20. In other semifinal, top seed Carolina Marin will play Japan’s Akane Yamaguchi.

As a humbled Saina made a hustled exit from the arena, Sindhu soaked up the full-throated adulation of the crowd. In the coming years, her legion of fans will only increase.

Quarterfinals: Men’s singles: 3-Viktor Axelsen (Den) bt Tzu Wei Wang (Tpe) 19-21, 21-14, 21-16, 6-NG Ka Long Angus (Hkg) bt Tommy Sugiarto (Ina) 10-21, 21-15, 21-19, 7-Chou Tien Chen (Tpe) bt Hans-Kristian Solberg Vittinghus (Den) 21-10, 21-14, Anders Antonsen (Den) bt Sameer Verma (Ind) 24-22, 21-19.

Women’s singles: 4-Akane Yamaguchi (Jpn) bt 7-Nozomi Okuhara (Jpn) 21-13, 11-21, 21-18; 2-Sung Ji Hyun (Kor) bt 5-Ratchanok Intanon (Ina) 21-16, 22-20, 3-PV Sindhu (Ind) bt 6-Saina Nehwal (Ind) 1-16,22-20, 1-Carolina Marin (Esp) bt Minatsu Mitani (Jap) 21-10, 20-22, 21-11.

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