Day 4 of the World Championships started on an exciting note for Indian fans as P.V Sindhu, Saina Nehwal and Jwala Gutta & Ashwini Ponappa marched their way into the quarterfinal stage of the tournament. However, the day ended on a sad note as Kidambi Srikanth and H.S Prannoy faltered in their respective third round matches.
In the battle of the two-time World Championships bronze medallist PV Sindhu and two-time World Championships silver medalist Li Xuerui, it was the 20-year-old Indian, who prevailed over her more experienced rival.
Sindhu who is ranked 13th in the world stunned the reigning Olympic Champion and World No. 3 Xuerui 21-17, 14-21, 21-17 in a tense 50-minute contest to storm into the women's singles quarterfinals.
The Hyderabadi started the match on a thumping note as she hurled off to an 11-5 lead in just five minutes of the opening game but the former World No. 1 Chinese came back strongly after the mid game interval as she reeled off few quick points to reduce the lead to just one. Leading by 17-16, Sindhu with her power smashes and deft net shots grabbed the next three points to earn herself a game point.
The next game was a completely one-sided affair as Xuerui didn’t give her opponent even a single chance to come close. Xuerui, who is a former All England and Asian Champion was dominating the net play from the start of the game. The Chinese was 11-7 up in no time and then extended the lead to 15-10 before making it 19-14. She eventually wrapped the next two points to take the match to a decider.
Despite being outclassed in the second game, Sindhu showed that she can compete at the highest level by winning the final game. Her start to the decider was a lot similar to the opening game as she quickly ran away to a five-point lead at the interval. It was a neck-and-neck affair after that as the Chinese ace was dominating the longer rallies and Sindhu the shorter one.
From 14-all, Sindhu took the next four points in a row to take a healthy lead towards the business end of the final game. She converted the first game opportunity to script one of the most famous victories of her career.
11th seed Indian will now take on the Korean challenge of Ji Hyun Sung to enter her third consecutive World Championships semifinal.
In another major upsets of the day, star Indian pair of Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponappa, who are seeded 13th edged past the 8th seed Japanese pair of Miyuki Maeda and Reika Kakiiwa to enter the last eight of the tournament.
Indian duo, who are ranked 12th in the world courtesy the Canada Open win in June defeated the World ranked 6 Japanese pair 21-15 18-21 21-19 in a nail-biting encounter which lasted for almost an hour. They won the opening game with ease but faced some stiff challenge in the second. Maeda and Kakiiwa, who won the bronze medal last year, took the second game by a score of 18-21.
Third game was an evenly contested one as neither pair led the lead slip off their hands but it was at the dying moments of the decider that the Japanese girls started to feel some pressure on them as they made quite a few errors. and the Indians converted the first game point opportunity to drop the curtains on the challenge of the Japanese pair.
They will now take on the unseeded and World No. 17 Naoko Fukuman and Kurumi Yonao to ensure themselves of a bronze medal. Fukuman and Yonao caused a very huge upset by defeating the World No. 2 Chinese pair of Luo Ying and Luo Yu in the other pre-quarterfinal.
Comfortable win for Saina
World No. 2 and Olympic bronze medalist Saina Nehwal sailed smoothly to the last eight with a comfortable victory over Sayaka Takahashi of Japan. The 25-year-old thrashed the 14th seed and World ranked 17 Japanese ace 21-18, 21-14 in 14 minutes. This was Saina’s 4th consecutive win over her lower ranked opponent.
Saina will now take on the World No. 6 Chinese player Wang Yihan to enter the last 4 of the World Championships.This will be the 12th meeting between these two highly experienced shuttlers. Wang has got the better of Saina on nine occasions where Saina has won just two but the last meeting between the two was won by the Indian in two straight sets. So psychologically Saina will start as a favorite in this clash.
The Men’s Singles campaign ends
There was a huge disappointment in men’s singles as World No. 3 Kidambi Srikanth and World No. 12 H.S Prannoy failed to get past their respective rivals.
Both the Indian shuttlers stretched their opponents to three games but failed to capitalize on the momentum. Ranked 3rd in the world, Kidambi Srikanth went down to World No. 15 Hu Yun of Hong 14-21, 21-17, 23-21 in a 61-minute thrilling match. Srikanth’s ranking is bound to go down after the tournament as he has not made it to the quarterfinals in the last eight tournaments in which he has participated.
This is Yun’s first victory in three matches against the higher ranked Indian player.
H.S Prannoy gave a tough fight to 7th seed Danish player Viktor Axelsen before going down 21-16, 19-21, 21-18 in 58 minutes.Published 13 Aug 2015, 20:46 IST