Nanjing: World No. 2 P. V. Sindhu on Friday stormed her way into the semi-finals of the BWF World Championships with an emphatic display against Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara, while Saina Nehwal, Sai Praneeth, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Ashwini Ponnappa all crashed out from their respective quarter-final fixtures.
Third-seeded Sindhu avenged her loss at the hands of Okuhara in the finals last year and confirmed yet another medal for her at the competition with a 21-17, 21-19 win, making this the Indian’s second victory in three showdowns against the Japanese.
The first game was closely contested by the two in the early stages, with the score Okuhara starting strongly to claim the majority of the early points, although an array of uncharacteristic errors from her gave Sindhu an edge on the scoreline, who capitalised on them to win the game 21-17 in 25 minutes.
Okuhara looked better on the onset of a close second game, winning the first five points, before Sindhu eventually forced her way back into the game and with the scores at 19-19, Okuhara’s lift only managed to find the net to hand her opponent the match point.
Sindhu, who is the only woman to have won four medals at the BWF World Championships, made no mistake and claimed the next point to level the pair’s head-to-head record at 6-6, and book her semi-final berth against World No. 4 Akane Yamaguchi of Japan.
Meanwhile, Nehwal was comprehensively beaten 21-6, 21-11 by two-time Champion Carolina Marin in what was a replay of the finals of the 2015 edition. Marin’s aggressive style did not allow Nehwal to settle down at any point.
“Her movement was very quick today. She was moving so fast and covering the court very quickly. The kind of shots that she played, it seemed like she was suddenly very fast. Also, I had a late match yesterday so to face someone so quick was difficult. I didn’t understand what to do, she never gave me a chance to play my game,” Saina was quoted by ESPN as saying post-match.
Rankireddy and Ponnappa’s remarkable tournament run was ended by China’s Zheng Siwei and Huang Yaqiong, who bettered the Indians with a scoreline of 21-17, 21-10 in the quarters.
The Chinese duo was clinical in their game and capitalised on the Indians’ errors, who put up some fight in the first game but were swatted away easily in the second.
Sindhu will play Yamaguchi on Saturday with a chance to become the first Indian woman to win a gold medal in the BWF World Championships hanging in the balance. (ANI)