China Open: Resilient PV Sindhu saves multiple match points to enter final
There has never been any doubt about PV Sindhu’s resilience and guts under pressure. The 21-year-old, who showed that in ample amounts during her silver medal-winning campaign at the Rio Olympics, displayed it once more on Saturday as she made her maiden final at the China Open Superseries Premier in Fuzhou.
Staring at three match points down in the second game, the World No. 11 brought forth all her courage and fighting skills to stave off the tenacious seventh-ranked Sung Ji Hyun of Korea, 11-21, 23-21, 21-19 in a marathon 1-hour 24-minute battle.
The seventh seed will next face the eighth-seeded Sun Yu of China for the title.
Sindhu had a 5-3 winning head-to-head record over the Korean coming into this match and was 2-1 in their meetings this year. But it was always certain that she needed to keep her unforced errors in check otherwise life would be difficult against the experienced Korean.
She soon found that out in the initial stages of the match where the determined Korean made use of Sindhu’s tentative play to grab a one-sided first game 21-11.
Comeback after a disastrous first game
Even the second game looked a difficult task for the Indian, who trailed behind 7-11 at half-time. The Korean’s strategy of tiring out the Indian by playing long rallies and making her concede errors was working very well.
On resumption, the Indian made it a very tight affair and it became a gritty contest until 16-16 following which the Korean clearly had the upper hand. She extended her lead to 18-16 and then to 20-17 before Sindhu mounted on her magical comeback.
With a clever mix of great lifts and superb touches at the net, the Indian levelled it to 20-20 and then took the game 23-21 on her second game point.
Sung was once again the aggressor and had the early lead in the decider. Up 7-3, she saw her advantage getting erased as Sindhu finally made a conscious effort of keeping her errors in check. The leads swung both sides as exhausting rallies became the order of the day.
Tied at 16-16, Sindhu pulled the trigger with some fabulous aggressive play and opened up a two-point cushion for 18-16. Even though the Korean did make a brief comeback, Sindhu was able to shake her off and won the match with a blazing smash that landed right on the line as confirmed by the Hawk-Eye.
This is the third consecutive year that an Indian has reached the women’s singles final at the China Open with Saina Nehwal winning it in 2014 and ended as the runner-up last year.