It was worth the wait. Scheduled the last match of the day, defending champion and home favourite P. V. Sindhu turned the frustration of all her fans into ecstasy storming into the final of the India Open 2018 at the Siri Fort Stadium here. It is the second successive final for the World No. 4 who clinched the title here last year.
In just 48 minutes, Rio Olympic silver medallist Sindhu clinically packed off two-time former champion Ratchanok Intanon in straight games 21-13, 21-15 in the second women’s semi-finals and will now meet Beiwen Zhang of USA in the final on Sunday. With the result, Sindhu also bettered her head-to-head record against the diminutive Thai player to 3-4.
For someone, who has beaten almost all the top players including Tai Tzu Ying, Akane Yamaguchi, Sung Ji Hyun in the recent past, Intanon has lost to Sindhu three times in their four recent meetings. In other words, Sindhu has mastered the former World champion with her power-packed game recently. In 2013, Intanon has beaten the Indian three times before Sindhu broke the series in 2015 Korea Open.
In today’s semi-finals, Sindhu’s aggression was the key as she came out all guns blazing with her attacking game that had powerful smashes, crosscourt slices and some angled shots. On the other hand, Intanon failed to read Sindhu’s smashes and committed several unforced errors among others. Nevertheless, she did manage to mesmerize the crowd with her creative wrist on a few occasions.
Shortest singles of the day
It was indeed the shortest singles match of the day, having played for 48 minutes, while all the other singles clashes lasted more than an hour.
After Sindhu pulled off the first game in just 20 minutes, it seemed the match will be shortest of the day. But the Thailand shuttler made a strong comeback in the second game, staying neck and neck till 12-all before Sindhu broke away with some powerful strokes and clear winners.
Unlike the other women’s semi-finals (Zhang vs Cheung Ngan Yi) that had long, energy-sapping rallies, going up to 30 or 40 strokes, the Sindhu vs Intanon match had quick ones lasting for around 22 strokes. There were a few occasions when both the players’ movements and skills were tested though, but Sindhu came out the winner in most of the occasions, owing to better fitness.
With slower court and slower shuttles, it remains to be seen how Sindhu tackles the China-born Zhang in the final on Sunday. Going by records, Sindhu has an advantage but Zhang has beaten the Indian in their last meeting in three games and she will come into her first Superseries final in two years with that confidence.
Published 04 Feb 2018, 11:31 IST