Harpal Singh Bedi
New Delhi: Former champion Kidambi Srikanth waged a grim battle to overpower Huang Yuxiang and kept Indian interest alive by making it to the final as another contender P .Kashyap and fancied PV Sindhu lost their semi-finals battles at the Yonex-Sunrise India Open Badminton here on Saturday.
Srikanth lost the first game and survived some anxious moments in the decider before putting it across the 30th ranked Chinese 16-21, 21-14, 21-19 win in 64 minutes.
In the process Srikanth set up a rematch of 2015 final with the 2017 champion Viktor Axelsen, who outlasted home favourite Parupalli Kashyap 21-11, 21-17.
However for the partisan fans who had packed the Indoor stadium, the biggest disappointment came in the women section, when their favourite and 2017 winner PV Sindhu squandered five game points in the first game to succumb to a 21-23, 18-21 defeat to the third-seeded He Bingjiao.
With her aggressive game doing most of the talking and her anticipation skills looking spot-on, Sindhu looked sharp in the initial stages of her 14th meeting with Bingjiao, racing ahead to 15-11.
The Chinese stayed put , shoing no sign of awe and came back by taking control of the frontcourt and exploiting her rival’s movement. She saved four-game points at 16-20 and another one at 20-21, to win the first game 23-21.
Sindhu once more had a 15-12 advantage in Game 2 but a cool and calm Bingjiao fought back to wrest away the momentum and inch ahead to 19-18 before wrapping up the win.
“After losing the first game I was a bit nervous. I came back and could’ve maintained the 14-11 lead, but she played really well. I could’ve been much more patient,” said Sindhu after the match.
Srikanth was troubled early on by Yuxiang’s speed, quick change of direction and superior net play. From 14-14, the Chinese went up to 19-14 due to unforced errors from the home hope. Srikanth did save a couple of game points but his effort fell short as Yuxiang wrapped up the opener 21-16.
Amid deafening cheers from the crowd, the World No. 7 started showing flashes of his aggression in the early part of the second game. By regularly finding the lines, the India No. 1 held on to go up to 13-6 and kept up the same approach to close out the second game 21-14.
Errors at the net proved costly for Srikanth in the decider as Yuxiang went up to 13-11. The former World No. 1 then found his firepower from a 14-17 deficit to draw level at 18-18 and then a beautiful touch at the net helped him finish the win.
“I gave too many easy points after that 11-point break in the third set. In the end, I was just thinking I was playing safe and working hard for every point,” said Srikanth after the victory. “Even yesterday, I lost the first set. I have not been able to pull out the first sets but really happy I was able to pull out third sets,” added the top-ranked Indian.
Meanwhile Thailand’s former world champion Ratchanok Intanon survived a tough duel with the seventh seed Han Yue, eking out a 21-15, 19-21, 21-18 win in 1 hour 6 minutes.
For the highly popular Thai, this is her fourth final at this prestigious tournament after earlier wins in 2013 and 2016.
The women’s doubles section witnessed a mini-upset as the third seeds Chow Mei Kuan and Lee Meng Yean beat the second seeds Jongkolphan Kititharakul and Rawinda Prajongjai 18-21, 21-19, 21-19.
They will take on the top seeds Greysia Polii and Apriyani Rahayu who needed three games to see off compatriots Della Destiara Haris and Tania Oktaviani Kusumah 21-9, 19-21, 21-5.
In mixed doubles, the top seeds Wang Yilyu and Huang Dongping set up a summit clash with fifth seeds Praveen Jordan and Melati Daeva Oktavianti.
The Chinese, winners of the BWF World Tour Finals title last year, beat fourth seeds Hafiz Faizal and Gloria Emanuelle Widjaja 21-13, 21-16 while the Indonesians prevailed over Lee Yang and Yang Ching Tun 21-9, 23-21.