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China Open: PV Sindhu storms into the semi-finals, Ajay Jayaram exits

FEATURED COLUMNIST
582   //    18 Nov 2016, 17:39 IST
PV Sindhu
Sindhu crosses second round for the first time post-Rio

A day after a rollercoaster second round match at the China Open Superseries Premier, Rio Olympic silver medallist PV Sindhu was careful not to repeat the same mistake at this Fuzhou tournament. On Friday, the seventh seed eked out a hard-fought first game and then raced through the second to clinch a 22-20, 21-10 win over the in-form World No. 10 He Bingjiao of China.

In contrast, Ajay Jayaram – the only Indian to reach the men’s singles quarter-finals – found the going extremely tough against the second seed and Olympic champion Chen Long. The Indian bowed out 15-21, 14-21 in 40 minutes.

Sindhu sizzles

Bingjiao had been Sindhu’s nemesis this year, having won three of the five matches they played prior to this showdown. The World No. 10, in fact, has been the most in-form women’s singles player for the past few weeks, who won three of her last five tournaments that included the French Open Superseries title.

She came into this match on a fabulous 12-match winning streak. Thus she was expected not to make it easy for the Indian.

And she did not when the match started. Bingjiao kept it pretty competitive even though the Indian did begin with a 5-1 lead. Sindhu went into the interval with an 11-9 advantage only to see her lead being erased for a 14-14 tie. Both women put up a gritty fight and the Chinese youngster even inched ahead 19-18 and held a game point at 20-19 to put pressure on her rival.

Sindhu appeared unfazed by the challenge and regrouped to save the game point and snatch the game, 22-20.

Bingjiao, who is rumoured to be dealing with a knee issue, faded away in the second game as Sindhu grew in confidence. The Indian did not put her foot down at all and looked totally in control of the entire game.

At half-time, she was ahead 11-4 which she merrily extended to 14-6 before closing out the win in 39 minutes.

In the semi-finals, the World No. 11 will face the winner of the quarter-final contest between the fifth seed Sung Ji Hyun and Akane Yamaguchi.

One-sided loss for Jayaram

For Ajay Jayaram, it was a pretty one-sided loss as he ran out of options on how to stall the World No. 2’s momentum. It has always been a bad match-up for the Indian who has never even managed to take a game off the Chinese in four past meetings.

This time too, it was no exception. The only time when the Indian was ahead in the opening game was at the very start when he went up 4-2. In no time, the Chinese, buoyed by the home crowd, came back in impressive fashion to lead 11-8 at the interval.

Jayaram fought till 14-17 after which the second seed ran away with the game.

In the second game, Chen Long rode high to march ahead to 11-5 at the break. Jayaram could only reduce the deficit to four points when he made it 12-16 but that’s all he could do before the Chinese advanced to the semi-finals.

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FEATURED COLUMNIST
A freelance journalist based in Kolkata who is a diehard Rafael Nadal fan. She is also extremely passionate about India’s progress in sports and hopes to throw light on India’s unsung sports heroes through her articles. When not screaming her lungs out in support of her favourite sports stars, she can be seen reading, watching movies or immersed in planning her next travel destination!
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