KUALA LUMPUR, JUNE 29,
P V Sindhu and Kidambi Srikanth continued their impressive run at the Malaysia Open, progressing to the semifinals of the women’s and men’s singles competition with a straight-game wins in the USD 700,000 world tour super 750 tournament in Kuala Lumpur on Friday.
In a clash between Olympic silver and gold medallists, it was Sindhu who emerged victories with a 22-20 21-19 result in a 52-minute quarterfinal match.
The 22-year-old Sindhu, who won a silver at the Glasgow World Championship, will face world no 1 and top seed Chinese Taipei’s Tai Tzu Ying on Saturday.
Earlier fourth seed Srikanth, who won a silver medal at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, dumped world no 22 France’s Brice Leverdez 21-18 21-14 in a 39-minute clash at the Axiata Arena in Bukit Jalil, a suburb in Kuala Lumpur.
The Indian had also beaten the French in three games at All England Championship this year.
The 25-year-old will take on former world no 2 and 2015 world championship bronze medallist Kento Momota, who has been in sensational form ever since making a comeback after serving a one-year ban by Japan Badminton Association for gambling at an illegal casino in 2015.
Momota clinched the Macau Open and Dutch Open last year besides reaching the finals at Canada Open. He won the 2018 Asia Badminton championship and was also unbeaten at the Thomas Cup.
Srikanth will have a tough task at hand as Momota will be extra motivated to earn back his respect as it was here two years ago that he had to concede a second round match after the news of him and compatriot Kenichi Tago gambling at an illegal casino broke out.
In the women’s singles match, Sindhu started the proceedings with a sharp smash and moved to a 3-1 lead early on but Marin clawed back. Sindhu again opened a slender two-point lead which evaporated quickly.
As has been the norm, Sindhu and Marin continued to fight it out as leads changed hands too frequently. The Indian finally grabbed a miniscule 11-10 lead at the interval after Marin failed to reach for a shot at the backline.
Marin dictated the pace of the rallies to open up a 13-11 lead, celebrated every point with her usual verbal screams. Sindhu attacked her opponent’s backhand to draw level this time at 14-14 and moved to lead with a smash, which Marin hit wide.
Lagging 15-18, Marin stepped up the attack and grabbed five straight points to secure two game-point opportunities. A net error and a wide shot by Marin saw Sindhu claw back at 20-20. The Spaniard again hit wide and then found the net as the Indian pocketed the opening game.
The second game started in a similar fashion as Sindhu and Marin moved to 3-3 before the Indian surged to a 6-3 lead. The left-handed shuttler, however, soon levelled the score with three points as Sindhu committed a few unforced errors.
At the interval, Sindhu grabbed a 11-6 advantage after reeling off five straight points, which ended with Marin hitting out.
Marin slipped on the court after the break but managed to narrow the gap to 10-13 before moving to 14-15. However, the Spaniard hit long, netted a shot and failed to reach one at the forecourt as Sindhu moved to 19-15.
A solid defence saw Sindhu grab three match points. She blew two points before unleashing a cross court smash to seal the contest in 52 minutes.
Earlier, Srikanth erased a 5-8 deficit to grab a 11-9 lead at the break. Leverdez clawed back at 12-12 but the Indian again marched ahead to grab a 17-14 advantage. The French drew parity at 17-17 before Srikanth surged to pocket the opening game.
In the second game, Srikanth and Leverdez fought till 5-5 before the Indian first grabbed a 11-5 lead and then kept his nose ahead to comfortably shut the doors on his rival.