New Delhi, April 1: India’s top badminton player and Olympic silver medallist P V Sindhu defeated Saina Nehwal on Friday in an exciting clash in India Open Super Series and stormed into semifinals. Notably, Sindhu emerged victorious over her senior pro 21-16 22-20 in the much-anticipated contest to set up a clash with second-seeded Korean Sung Ji Hyun in the semifinals.
However, Sindhu and Saina started cautiously and kept up with each other for the first 10-odd minutes. The first game was tight till the break, with Sindhu leading 11-9. But then Sindhu pulled away, helped by a few errors of judgement on Saina's part. Saina misread a serve and then didn't play a shot from the back court during a rally. Both points went against her. Sindhu led 18-12 at one stage and closed out the game 21-16 in only 19 minutes.
Saina then moved better and played more aggressively in the second game, taking a 4-1 early lead. But she continued to make errors and soon Sindhu closed the gap, making it 4-6. Saina, however, kept winning more rallies and a drop shot gave her an 11-7 lead going into the break.
Both the players divided the next few points almost equally among themselves but Saina maintained her lead and made it 15-12. Sindhu later boosted herself and upped her tempo from there and her attacking strokes brought her to 15-16. But soon an error at the back court helped Saina make it 18-15.
Sindhu later aggressively won three consecutive points to make it 19-19 as Saina struggled to close out the game. A successful body smash then gave Saina a game point but she blew it with a service error. Sindhu seized the opportunity and won two more points in quick succession to notch an important win over her top Indian opponent.
This was the second time that the Indian heavyweights Sindhu and Saina clashed at the international level. When they met during the final of the 2014 Syed Modi Grand Prix in Lucknow, it was London 2012 bronze winner Saina who prevailed in straight games.
Notably, world number five PV Sindhu will play in the semi-finals of the India Open Super Series tournament in New Delhi. The Rio Olympics Silver medalist, who is seeded third in the competition, will take on second-placed Sung Ji-hyun of South Korea. Both players have met 10 times in the past, with Sindhu winning 6 of those games.