India Open: Sindhu, Srikanth, Kashyap stay on course; enter semis

New Delhi: Former champions P V Sindhu and Kidambi Srikanth stayed on course to reclaim titles while a vintage Parupalli Kashyap too regained some form, sealing his place in the men’s singles semifinals of the USD 350,000 India Open here Friday. Sindhu, a 2017 champion and 2016 finalist, edged out Denmark’s eighth seed Mia Blichfeldt 21-19 22-20 in a closely-fought contest to set up a clash with China’s He Bingjiao on Saturday.

“I should have finished it earlier. I made too many errors. He Bingjiao and she is a tricky player. I have to be more patient,” Sindhu said. Srikanth finally snapped his series of quarterfinal finishes, outwitting compatriot B Sai Praneeth 21-23 21-11 21-19 in a 62 minute pulsating contest, while Kashyap entered his first semifinals of a top-tier event (World Tour Super 500 or Superseries) in almost four years, beating Chinese Taipei’s Wang Tzu Wei 21-16 21-11.

Srikanth will face China’s Huang Yuxiang, while Kashyap takes on former world champion and former world no 1 Viktor Axelsen. H S Prannoy couldn’t match up with the second seeded Axelsen, going down 10-21 16-21 in a match that had some tight fights in the second game. Srikanth had made eight quarterfinal finishes in last nine tournaments and the Indian didn’t look to make the last 8 after he lost the opening game narrowly and lagged 1-7 in the second.

But a gritty Srikanth saved five game points, fighting back from 16-20 down before Praneeth staved off the challenge to take the opening game. Praneeth managed to grab a 7-1 lead to raise hopes of an upset but Srikanth came back strongly and took the match to the decider. In the third game, the Gopichand Academy colleagues split the initial 14 points before Praneeth edged ahead to 11-8 lead. But a fighting Srikanth again drew parity at 13-13 and eventually managed to produce those two points at 19-19 to seal a semifinal place.

“The turning point of the match was in the second game when I was 1-7 down and I fought back. From there, things changed. At 19-19 in the decider it could have gone either way. but I played well in the crucial points. So happy with my performance,” Srikanth said. On the adjacent court, Kashyap made a confident start, leading 6-3 early on but three successive returns at the forehand corner of Wang going out allowed his opponent to keep pace with the Indian who enjoyed a 11-8 lead at the break.

Wang made it 16-16 with Kashyap committing a few mistakes at the net but hit flat jabs and punches to the back of the court, pocketing the opening game. Kashyap took control of the net and retrieved everything, while Wang looked erratic with his smashes. Kashyap led 6-3 again in the second game.

Wang again clawed back at 8-8 but Kashyap managed to keep his nose ahead at 11-9 at the interval. The Indian marched ahead, varying the pace with his strokes, using angles and measured returns, cramming his opponent for space. He led 18-11. A smash and drop took Kashyap closer to seal the match and he celebrated after Wang hit one long. Men’s doubles sixth seeds Manu Attri and Sumeeth Reddy effortlessly won an all-Indian quarter-final clash with Pranaav Jerry Chopra and Shivam Sharma 21-10, 21-12.

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