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Australian Open roundup: Srikanth Kidambi the last Indian standing as Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu exit

This was Srikanth’s first win over Sai since 2014
FEATURED COLUMNIST
Modified 23 Jun 2017
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Indonesia Open champion Srikanth Kidambi remains the last Indian standing at the Crown Group Australian Open Superseries 2017 after both his superstar women counterparts – Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu – crashed out in the quarter-finals in Sydney on Friday.

Srikanth won a blockbuster all-Indian quarter-final over his training partner, B Sai Praneeth, 25-23, 21-17 in 43 minutes. He next meets the fourth seed Shi Yuqi for a place in the final.

This was Srikanth’s first win over Sai since 2014 and his second victory overall over his academy-mate in seven career meetings. With this triumph, the India No. 1 is now on an eight-match winning streak.

Sindhu squanders match point

It was a heartbreaking loss for PV Sindhu on the women’s side, who squandered a match point. Seeded fifth, she began brilliantly against the top seed and World No. 1 Tai Tzu Ying and clinched the first game 21-10 with a superb display of aggression.

But the imperious Tai, who had her 27-match winning streak snapped last week, steadily got stronger and stronger and saved a match point at 19-20. The Chinese Taipei ace made the most of her second chance. Rediscovering her finesse and deception, she came back from 10-13 in the decider to level at 13-13.

She then went on a run of her own, playing some stupendous badminton as Sindhu was left with no answer, ultimately wrapping up the 10-21, 22-20, 21-16 win in exactly an hour.

Saina’s title defence ends

Defending champion Saina Nehwal played a fabulous middle game but could not keep the surging sixth seed Sun Yu from coming back to take the match, 21-17, 10-21, 21-17. This is Sun’s first victory over Saina in Australia in four career showdowns and her second win over the Indian overall.

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A slow start from Nehwal sent Sun up 7-1. Even though the Indian made a fine comeback after that and led 17-13, she could not close out the game. Unforced errors right at that juncture proved costly as the lanky Chinese roared back into contention and took the opener, 21-17.

Saina was thoroughly in control of the proceedings in the second game. Constantly forcing errors with amazing footwork all over the court, she grabbed a one-sided second game, 21-10.

The decider expectedly turned out to be quite a competitive one and Saina was the first one to break free from the tie and went up 12-9. That, however, could not perturb Sun even as Saina soared to 15-13.

With an injection of pace and aggression into her shots, the Chinese went on a roll. Saina, in contrast, found the going tough with her racquet constantly peppering the court with unforced errors.

Sun pocketed seven points in a row and finished it strongly in 1 hour 18 minutes by winning the longest rally of the match.

Published 23 Jun 2017, 20:05 IST
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