Sindhu beats Saina conqueror to enter semis

New Delhi, April 26 (IANS) Eighth seeded P.V. Sindhu advanced to the women’s singles semifinals of the $200,000 India Open Super Series after beating Japan’s Yui Hashimoto, who earlier beat Saina Nehwal, here at the Siri Fort Sports Complex Friday.

In the quarterfinal clash, the World No.15 won 21-16, 21-16 in 47 minutes to equalise her career head-to-head to 1-all against the World No.46, to whom Sindhu had lost in the Swiss Open Grand Prix Gold in March. This will be the Hyderabadi’s second appearance in the last four stage of a Super Series event after the China Masters last year.

Elsewhere, Mumbai’s Anand Pawar continued his dream run entering the semifinals of a Super Series event for the first time by beating city-mate Ajay Jayaram 21-6, 21-16 in half an hour. He will face Japanese sixth seed Kenichi Tago, who has beaten the Indian the only time they met way back in 2007.

Meanwhile, it was the end of the road for H.S. Prannoy, R.M.V. Gurusaidutt, B. Sai Praneeth and Ajay Jayaram in men’s singles and Arundhati Pantawane from women’s who lost their respective quarterfinal matches.

In the first game, Sindhu completely dominated her opponent at the start making the Japanese move around the court all the time. The 17-year-old used deceptive drop shots from the back of the court which flummoxed her 22-year-old opponent.

Cheered by a fairly large crowd, the home favourite kept extending her lead and raced away to 19-7 with the Japanese finding herself in all sorts of misery with her smashes going out or being retrieved easily by the Pullela Gopichand protege.

But the Japanese showed signs of recovery as she had strokes up her sleeve which she used to gain nine straight points to reduce the Hyderabadi’s lead to 19-16. Sindhu on the other hand played safe at the right moment and won the next two points using deceptive drops from smashing position to the seal the game.

The second game was a much closer affair with the Japanese bringing the fight to Sindhu, who kept retrieving the Japanese’s smashes beautifully and used her height to send several smashes right into the Japanese’s body. But from 14-all, the Indian increased her pace and won the game and match in another five minutes.

“In the first game I was leading but lost several points at a stretch. I was not overconfident because in the past I have lost matches from a winning position. But when she reached a 14-ish score I decided to play safe. It was a tense moment but I came out well. I am happy to reach the semifinals in front of my home crowd,” Sindhu told reporters here.

Sindhu takes on Thai teenager and third seed Ratchanok Intanon in a last four clash Saturday.

Quarterfinal results of Indian shuttlers:

Men’s singles: 1-Lee Chong Wei Lee (MAS) bt H.S. Prannoy (IND) 21-14, 21-19; 6-Kenichi Tago (JAP) bt B. Sai Praneeth (IND) 21-17, 19-21, 21-11; 7-Boonsak Ponsana (THA) bt R.M.V. Gurusaidutt (IND) 21-12, 11-21, 21-12; Anand Pawar (IND) bt Ajay Jayaram (IND) 21-6, 21-16.

Women’s singles: 3-Ratchanok Intanon (THA) bt Arundhati Pantawane (IND) 14-21, 21-7, 21-16; 8-P.V. Sindhu (IND) bt Yui Hashimoto (JAP) 21-16, 21-16.

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