PV Sindhu has advanced to the final of the Hong Kong Open after beating former world champion Ratchanok Intanon in two games of 21-17 in women’s singles semifinal. In the final, she will face Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei and it will be a rematch of the last year's final where the Indian lost.
During the semifinal clash against Intanon, Sindhu looked fresh despite playing continuously for the last month and a half. Intanon is known for hitting powerful drives, strong smashes, and has the ability to come back from difficult situations. Sindhu, who was aware of her opponent’s qualities took an early 9-3 lead in the first game with some power hitting. The 22-year-old was struggling to control the shuttle which helped Sindhu who secured a four-point lead 11-7 at the break.
The Indian took command of the front-court with her deceptive placements while the Thai star was struggling to read the flight of the shuttle handing Sindhu easy points. Trailing 13-20, Intanon tried to launch a comeback winning four straight points but it was too little too late as an unforced error gifted Sindhu the game.
Having found her groove towards the end of the first game, Intanon started troubling the Indian player with accurate shots. But Sindhu seemed ready for this challenge moving across the court with grace and speed and
But the Thailand player fought back yet again and reduced the gap to just one with the scoreboard reading 13-14. A couple of unforced errors by Intanon were compounded by two well-timed body smashes by Sindhu as the Indian opened up a four-point lead. Ratchanok successfully reduced the margin to 16-18 the second point coming off a 24-shot rally. But Sindhu was not to be denied and with Intanon hitting the shuttle long, the Indian booked a place in the third Super Series final of the year where she will face Tai Tzu Ying in a repeat of last year's final.
Coach Pullela Gopichand seemed satisfied with the performance adding that Sindhu played a smart game in the semifinal.
"It's a good match, Sindhu is smart enough to mix her pace and defence. She is moving quite well and is in good shape today," said Gopichand as quoted by TOI.
"It will be a tough match but if Sindhu sticks to the strategy she should be able to win."
The World No. 1 Tai Tzu Ying defeated Ji Hyun Sung of South Korea 21-9, 18-21, 21-7 in the other last-four clash to reach in the final of the tournament to play against Sindhu. Tai has a 7-3 win-loss record against the Indian and won last year’s final in straight games and handed defeats to Sindhu at All England and Australian Open tournaments this year.
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