In a day of mixed results for India, Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu obtained contrasting results. The two Indian shuttlers, who have brought medals from successive Olympics, were on course to face off in the semi-finals. However, it was not to be and the expected PV Sindhu Saina Nehwal blockbuster, will not be happening after all.
Sindhu had, probably her toughest match of the year, as she managed to overturn a six-point deficit in the third and final game. Thus, Sindhu managed to enter the semi-finals of the Hong Kong Open superseries by defeating Liang Xiayou of Singapore 21-17, 21-23, 21-18.
The Indian shuttler got off to a poor start against Xiayou as she strailed 7-4 at the beginning of the first game. However, Sindhu rallied to win four consecutive points and closed out the first game 21-17.
Sindhu once again started poorly in the second game. Both players played with aggression and and the game was interestingly poised at 10-10. A couple of unforced errors from Xiayou gave Sindhu a two-point advantage and she did not let go. Xiayou tried to make up but Sindhu raced away to a four-point lead as the match neared the end.
However, trailing 13-17, Xiayou played some inspirational games as she drew level with Sindhu at 19-19. At 21-21, an error from Sindhu cost her the game 21-23.
Sindhu came out all guns blazing in the third game as she raced away to a 4-1 lead. However, the see-saw nature of the match continued as Xiayou clawed back and took a 5-4 lead. Things became worse for Sindhu as Xiayou raced away to a six-point lead and at 9-15, things looked grim.
But, the Indian shuttler won five consecutive points to close the gap to 14-15. At 18-18, it was anybody’s game but Sindhu held her nerve brilliantly to take the lead and close out the game to win the game 21-18 and the match.
Unfortunately, Saina did not fare as well as she could not overcome local favourite Cheung Ngan Yi. The 2012 Olympic bronze medallist started badly as she failed to garner momentum in the first game. Cheung made her pay and Saina lost the first game 8-21.
In the second game, Saina regained her composure and seemed to be back at her best. After initially trailing by a couple of points, she turned the tables on the Hong Kong shuttler and clinched the second game 21-18.
In the third game, Saina committed errors as she fell behind. Trailing 11-18, it looked all over but Saina made a remarkable comeback and levelled the match at 18-18. However, in a rally that lasted for over two minutes, Cheung seized the opportunity and closed out the match to win the game 21-19 and enter the semi-final, where she will face Sindhu.
With Saina’s loss, Sindhu has toppled her in the world rankings. Sindhu has moved to number nine in the rankings while Saina has slipped to 11th.