Badminton

Korea Open: Sindhu moves into semis, Sameer Verma goes down fighting against world No. 1

Sindhu beat Japan’s Minatsu Mitani 21-19, 16-21, 21-10 in a 63-minute contest.

PV Sindhu put up a dominant display in the final game despite being made to toil for 63 minutes by Japan’s Minatsu Mitani to enter the semi-finals with a 21-19, 16-21, 21-10 win at Seoul on Friday.

The first two games were evenly contested, with advantage oscillating back and forth till the decider. Despite Mitani’s spirited comeback in the second game, the three-time World Championships medallist from India found her groove in the third game.

In the first game, which lasted for 21 minutes, the world No 4’s reach, quite unusually, deserted her. On at least three occasions, Sindhu, despite being in a position of strength, gifted points to her opponent. Mitani, though, showed tremendous grit to bounce back from a stuttering start. The Indian raced to a 7-3 lead, and was rattling off points with ease through a series of ferocious cross-court drops.

Mitani managed to stay toe-for-toe with Sindhu but the latter closed down the game thanks to a couple of unforced errors from the Japanese with the scores at 19-all. The second game started with Mitani racing away to a 4-1 lead. It was one-way traffic when Sindhu found her footing in the game through some smart play from the baseline, combining it with some ferocious jump-smashes down the line to pick up as many as six points in a row.

Mitani’s resurgence started with score at 8-10 in favour of Sindhu, where she twice defended two lightening-quick smashes to win a point. From trailing 10-13, Mitani stormed into the lead, yet again, finding chinks in Sindhu’s reach. Mitani’s joy was short-lived though as an inspired Sindhu put up an inspired display in the third game. The Olympic silver medallist cashed in on her opponent’s weariness to stroll towards a victory.

Update: Sindhu will face China’s He Bingjiao in her last-four tie after the world No. 7 defeated Sung Ji Hyun (world No. 3) in her quarter-final fixture 21-19 16-21 21-19 in 77 minutes.

Verma nearly pulls off second big upset

Sameer Verma nearly pulled off another big upset following his stunning win over World No 13 Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk earlier. Verma, quite remarkably, won the first game 22-20 against world No. 1 Son Wan Ho, make full use of the Korean’s struggles early in the game. Verma showed tremendous nerve even with his opponent at game-point, forcing a tie-breaker. Son showed his class in the second and third games, which he won 21-10, 21-13 in a contest that lasted 70 minutes.

There were encouraging signs for the Indian even in the second game, where he briefly led. The world No 1, though, demolished the Syed Modi International winner at the net, reeling off an astounding nine straight points in the second game. The third game followed a fairly similar script to the second with Verma taking a narrow lead, only for Son to pick his opponent apart in the final exchanges and close down the game.

Fine doubles run comes to an end

India’s promising doubles pairing of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty went down fighting in the quarter-final against Takeshi Kamura and Keigo Sonoda, the world No. 4 pair from Japan. After upsetting 9th ranked pair in the previous round, Satwik and Chirag pushed the Japanese duo all the way before losing 21-14, 17-21, 21-15 in 55 minutes.

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