The highly anticipated all-India semi-final saw Kidambi Srikanth beat HS Prannoy 14-21, 21-19, 21-18 in an absolute thriller with the shuttlers besting each other throughout the game. Japan’s Akane Yamaguchi’s winning run continued as she defeated India's PV Sindhu 21-14, 21-9 to enter the final.
Pretty much against expectations, it was HS Prannoy who started the game positively as he took a quick four-point lead at 7-3 before Srikanth five consecutive points to pip Prannoy at 8-7. The game that promised an ultra-attack style from both players had set its pace the points went hand in hand for the Indian duo before a dramatic turnaround saw Prannoy take the lead at 19-14 before taking the first game with the scoreboard reflecting a score of 21-14 in his
Srikanth came back stronger in the second game as the fast-paced match saw him leading by two points at 10-8. Though Prannoy did make a comeback at 14-11 to frustrate the defending Denmark Open champion, Srikanth came back to cut the deficit at 18-17 and took home the second game with a nail-biting 21-19 finish, thereby forcing a decider.
The all-Indian semi-final was set for a magnificent final game and Srikanth started on the front foot taking a slender 5-4 lead. The match had remained highly balanced, and the third game wasn’t any different as Prannoy leapfrogged Srikanth to take a 15-12 lead thanks to his brilliant net play. But, Srikanth who had pretty much everything going for him in the game came back to make it 18-18. He then took the three out of the three points that he needed and secured passage into the final with a 21-18 win.
The Olympic medalist was simply not at her best today as Yamaguchi’s lightning fast movements proved to be too much for Sindhu from the very first point. Yamaguchi started the game well with two ferocious attacking strokes fetching her points and although Sindhu was quick to come back to level the game at 5-5. After the very tight first game saw the duo besting each other with brilliant attacking play that included some breath-taking rallies, Yamaguchi’s 13-12 lead proved to be the turning point in the entire game. She stretched Sindhu across the court with a variety of shots and the faltering Indian gave away points easily. The Japanese won seven consecutive points at 14-all to win the first game 21-14.
More than the first game loss, it was Sindhu’s frustrating errors that took her down today. Yamaguchi continued her ruthless approach in the second game and before Sindhu could realize, she was up by 6-0 taking her straight-winning streak to twelve points. A defensive Sindhu did produce some spark occasionally but Akane’s wristy strokes and backhand drives were unanswerable. Though Sindhu pulled some points back reducing the gap to 14-5, Akane went on another impressive straight-game win to wrap it up 21-9. She will now face World No. 1 Tai Tzu Ying in the final tomorrow.
Will Saina Nehwal make it to the Semi Finals of India Open 2018?
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