Olympic silver medallist PV Sindhu assured India of a silver medal after reaching the finals of the World Championship with a straight game win over World No 10 Chen Yufei in women’s singles, here today.
After compatriot Saina Nehwal settled for a bronze, following her heart-breaking loss to Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara, Sindhu lifted the spirits of the Indian camp by reaching the finals with a 21-13 21-10 win over World No 10 Chen Yufei.
This will be a third medal for Sindhu in the World Championship. She had won bronze twice in the 2013 and 2014 editions. With this win, she also became the only second Indian to reach the finals of World Championship after Saina achieved that feat in the last edition at Jakarta.
The 22-year-old will next take on Okuhara, whom she has beaten thrice and lost equal number of times in the last six meetings. However, the Indian had an upper hand in the last two meetings at Rio Olympics and 2017 Singapore Open.
Coming into the match, Sindhu had a 1-1 head-to-head record against the 19-year-old Chinese, having lost to her at the Malaysia Open in April. But she avenged that loss with another sizzling performance.
During the match, the duo engaged in long rallies with Chen trying to make the Indian twist and turn with her controlled returns. After being initially tied at 3-3, Chen, the reigning World Junior Champion, won a long rally when Sindhu miscued an overhead stroke to break the deadlock.
The fourth seeded Indian tried to dictate the rallies and she did manage to break the Chinese defence to claw back at 8 -8 and then led 9-8 when Chen hit the net. A surprise jump smash from Sindhu earned her another point and she wrested the 11-8 advantage with a lovely drop.
The lanky Indian tried to attack early in the rallies and backed it with precise drops and smashes to move to 13-8 lead.
Soon her fist-pumping was back as she celebrated each point, reaching 15-9 at one stage.
The drift, however, seemed to bother Sindhu as she misjudged a few returns at the baseline to concede points. Yet the Indian marched on and moved to 19-13 when Chen sent the shuttle long. Another rally ensued and Sindhu caught the shuttle early at the net and dispatched it to gather seven game points. She won the game when Chen hit long again.
Sindhu continued in the same vein after the change of sides, reaching 4-0. The diminutive Chinese seemed to find it difficult to negotiate the drift as she made judgement errors and also hit wide and long.
Sindhu tried to vary the serves and also change the pace of the rallies my mixing straight clears with drops and deceptive returns at the nets. It worked as she soon led 8-0 at one stage.
Sindhu seemed more patient as she constructed the rallies, making her rival move to the deep corners. Chen seemed clueless as she struggled with her returns as Sindhu grabbed a decisive 11-1 lead at the break.
Sindhu continued to put relentless pressure on her rival with some delectable forehand and backhand drives to lead 15- 3.
Chen kept fighting and won a few points here and there but it was always a mountain to climb as Sindhu continued to move ahead with a series of powerful smashes. Chen showed glimpses of her strokeplay with some exceptional cross court net flicks.
However, Sindhu soon reached the match point when Chen once again hit wide. The game was finally over when Chen again hit long.
Sindhu has been in rampaging form ever since the Rio Olympics. She clinched her maiden Super Series premier title at China Open last year before winning the India Super Series at New Delhi in April. She also won the Syed Modi Grand Prix Gold in January.