It was a matter of contrasting fortunes for India's two semi-finalists at the BWF World Championships 2019 at Basel, Switzerland on Saturday as PV Sindhu stormed into the final while Sai Praneeth crashed out.
Sindhu was absolutely brilliant and thoroughly outplayed the fourth seed and World No. 3 Chen Yufei 21-7, 21-14 to secure a final berth for the third year in a row. Sai, meanwhile, made a good start to his semi-final match against the top seed and World No. 1 Kento Momota but the Japanese grew stronger as the match progressed and completed a 21-13, 21-8 win in 42 minutes.
Sai may have lost but his bronze medal will bring home India's first men's singles medal in 36 years. India's last medal in this category was in 1983, when the legendary Prakash Padukone bagged a bronze.
The impressive Sai had upset World No. 4 Jonatan Christie and World No. 8 Anthony Sinisuka Ginting this week on his way to the last-four stage. However, Momota proved to be a tough nut to crack despite the Indian making a fine start.
With a great combination of offense and defense, the World No. 19 was at par with Momota till 10-10. It was after the mid-game interval that the defending champion upped the ante and ran away with the game.
The second game was no different as Sai ran out of ideas and could not do much against a determined Momota, who looked sharp as ever.
Earlier, Sindhu never put her foot off the pedal and annihilated the reigning All England Open champion Chen Yufei in a superb display of power and precision. On Friday, Sindhu became just the second women's singles shuttler to secure five medals from the World Championships after Zhang Nin.
However, none of Sindhu's medals so far has been a gold. With the kind of commanding performance that she put up in the semis to blow away the in-form Chinese, it is obvious that she will want to settle for nothing less than the yellow metal when she meets either Nozomi Okuhara or Ratchanok Intanon in the final tomorrow.
Sindhu's aggression and net-game were simply flawless as she built an 11-3 lead over Chen at the time of the mid-game interval in the first game. Chen tried to prolong the rally but couldn't execute her plan well as the lanky Indian grabbed the opener in no time.
The two were locked at 3-3 in the second game and Chen trailed Sindhu at 5-6 before the game got out of her hands. Sindhu thoroughly dominated the rising Chinese and entertained no challenge from her before closing out the match on her third match point.