PV Sindhu (WR #3) vs Akane Yamaguchi (WR #2)
Head-to-head: Sindhu leads 5-2
Last meeting: Sindhu beat Yamaguchi, 21-9, 21-13 in the final group match of the 2017 Dubai World Superseries Finals on Friday
Having an Indian in the final Superseries tournament of the year is perhaps the most apt farewell that Indian badminton fans can give to what has been an incredible season for the sport in the country. And it could all very well end on a winning note with another title for PV Sindhu.
She has remained undefeated so far at this tournament, winning all her group matches as well as the semi-final. She has not conceded a game since her opening match in Dubai where China’s He Bingjiao stretched her to three.
In one of these four wins, her opponent was the very player that she will be facing today. World No. 2 Akane Yamaguchi was a pale shadow of herself in the final group match on Friday while Sindhu was at her belligerent best.
The Japanese was nowhere near the player, who has reached three Superseries finals since the World Championships, winning one. The Indian simply toyed with her to secure her easiest win of the tournament.
Rest assured, it will not be that one-sided in the summit clash. The Japanese bounced back impressively from that rout to give a sheer display of her endurance when she edged former world champion Ratchanok Intanon, 17-21, 21-12, 21-19 in the semi-finals.
However, that effort took her 1 hour 12 minutes, which could have an impact, even if a minor one, in today’s final. That said, one needs to remember that PV Sindhu herself did not look very fit in her 21-15, 21-18 semi-final win over Chen Yufei on Saturday.
The Pullela Gopichand protégé seemed to be suffering from a bout of flu and did start looking fatigued as the second game wore on. At one point of the match, she was even shown a yellow card for taking too much time.
Her weariness and slow movement did hand over the lead to her Chinese opponent, who, however, failed to make use of it. It was Sindhu’s mental fortitude that shone through as she clinched the win when things did begin to look worrisome for her.
How the World Championships silver medallist recovers from that match will be the key factor to today’s encounter. Yamaguchi has troubled Sindhu in the past through her array of deceptive strokes, the most recent display of which was at the French Open semi-finals in October.
Ideally, she is not the kind of player that Sindhu enjoys playing against. Wily players of the likes of Yamaguchi, Tai Tzu Ying and Ratchanok Intanon, who have brilliant court coverage, do possess the ability to make life difficult for Sindhu. But if she is able to find her full arsenal and inspire herself for that one big win in the final BWF match of the season, Sindhu can definitely create history and finish on the top podium.
Here is all the information you need to know:
Tournament name: Dubai World Superseries Finals 2017
Total prize money: $1, 000, 000
Venue: Hamdan Sports Complex, Dubai
Date: Sunday, December 17, 2017
Time: PV Sindhu vs Akane Yamaguchi at approx 3.30pm IST
Channel: Star Sports 2/Star Sports 2 HD
Livestream information: Star Sports HotstarPublished 17 Dec 2017, 12:34 IST