Fixture: (3) Akane Yamaguchi vs (5) PV Sindhu
Date: March 19, 2021
Tournament: Yonex All England Open Badminton Championships 2021
Venue: Utilita Arena Birmingham
Category: BWF World Tour Super 1000
Prize money: $850, 000
Match timing: Approx 2.40 pm local time, 8.10 pm IST
Live telecast: Star Sports 3 & Star Sports 2 HD
Live Streaming: Disney+ Hotstar
PV Sindhu vs Akane Yamaguchi preview
After an underwhelming start to the year, world champion PV Sindhu looks to be slowly rediscovering her form. Her run to the final of the Swiss Open at the start of the month gives ample evidence of her resurgence.
Sindhu was able to turn the tables on Busanan Ongbamrungphan and Mia Blichfeldt — two players who had beaten her in Thailand at the start of the year.
Even though she couldn't put up much resistance against a high-flying Carolina Marin in the final, her four match wins in Basel definitely boosted her confidence.
The Rio Olympic silver medalist has picked up from where she left off, storming into the quarters of the All England Open on the back of a couple of commanding wins.
PV Sindhu started her campaign with a 21-11, 21-17 win over World No. 32 Soniia Cheah and followed it up with a 21-8, 21-8 demolition of Line Christophersen.
Up next for Sindhu is her sternest test of the week in the form of former World No. 1 Akane Yamaguchi. The Japanese is playing her first tournament of the year at the All England Open but has looked pretty sharp in the only match she has played so far.
The World No. 5 blew away the 38th-ranked Qi Xuefei 21-17, 21-13 in the first round. The former All England Open runner-up hasn't had to take to the court again as her opponent Nesilhan Yigit was forced to pull out of the tournament.
Yigit and the Indonesian contingent were on a UK flight where a passenger tested positive, leading to an exodus of players from the event.
PV Sindhu vs Akane Yamaguchi head-to-head
PV Sindhu leads Akane Yamaguchi 10-7 in their head-to-head. However, she hasn't managed to beat the Japanese since 2018.
Yamaguchi beat Sindhu in their last three meetings, which were at the Indonesia Open, the Japan Open, and the BWF World Tour Finals in 2019.
PV Sindhu vs Akane Yamaguchi prediction
Even though World No. 7 PV Sindhu has an edge in the head-to-head, their recent showdowns have all ended in favor of Akane Yamaguchi.
In fact, their only face-off at the All England Open, which was in the 2018 edition, saw Yamaguchi clinch a 19-21, 21-19, 21-18 semi-final win.
The diminutive Japanese plays an aggressive brand of badminton, which is backed up by exceptional reach and footwork all over the court.
In recent years, Yamaguchi has also improved her defense and can hold her own in long rallies as well.
Sindhu needs to be on point right from the start and can't afford to be passive against such a player. Most importantly, the Indian needs to control her aggression and cut down on her errors against the Japanese.
Sindhu comes into this matchup having had more match wins this year under her belt. While that could help her in tough situations, Yamaguchi is the more rested of the two. That might just tilt the balance in favor of the 23-year-old Japanese.
Prediction: Akane Yamaguchi to win in three games.