Jakarta: Two-time bronze-medallist P V Sindhu stunned Olympic champion and former World No. 1 Chinese Li Xuerui in a hard-fought contest, while Saina Nehwal sailed into the women’s singles quarterfinals after an easy win in the World Badminton Championship here today. With this victory, Sindhu has moved a step closer to claiming a hat-trick of medals in the World championship. The 11th seeded Sindhu, who clinched the bronze medal in 2013 and 2014 editions of this tournament, posted an upset win over Xuerui 21-17 14-21 21-17 in a battle that lasted 50 minutes.
London Olympics bronze-medallist Saina, on the other hand, overcame the 14th-seeded Sayaka Takahashi of Japan 21-18 21-14 in 47 minutes. If Saina and Sindhu are able to win their respective quarterfinal matches, they would both be assured of at least a bronze medal each. Sindhu will next take on eighth seeded Sung Ji-hyun of South Korea and Saina would be up against the winner of the match between Wang Yihan and Bae Yeon Ju. The World No. 13 Sindhu, who had spent most of the time this season nursing an injury and struggling for form, today gave a glimpse of her previous self.
Sindhu made her intentions clear from the very beginning as she opened with a 5-1 lead in the first game and simply surged ahead, never letting her higher ranked opponent catch her. The closest the Chinese came was at 16-17 before Sindhu won three points on the trot to make it 20-16 and eventually close the opening game 21-17. Xuerui, however, came back strongly in the second game, using all her experience as she dominated from the very first point to steal the game 21-14 and take it to the decider. In the third game, after breaking away from tied 3-3, Sindhu ran away with a 11-6 lead at the break. But the Chinese kept breathing down her neck, clawing back at 13-13.
At 14-14, Sindhu managed to win four successive points to once again open up a 18-14 lead. Thereafter she just tightened the noose, not letting the advantage slip and sealed the issue rather comfortably in the end. Meanwhile, World No. 2 Saina, despite struggling in the opening game, managed to come from behind and live up to her reputation to advance to the next stage. Saina conceded an 0-7 lead in the first game before she slowly clawed back into the game, winning a point or two to keep up with her Japanese rival.
She finally could catch Takahashi at 16-16 and the game went on neck-and-neck till 18-18 before she bagged three points on the trot to win it 21-18. In the second game, Saina took an early lead and was sailing along smoothly before she was caught by Takahashi at 12-12. After a brief battle, however, the Indian once again broke away with a three-point lead and then earned another five consecutive points to win it comfortably.
(To receive our E-paper on whatsapp daily, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)