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India Open 2018: PV Sindhu storms into final, Sikki Reddy-Pranaav Jerry Chopra bow out

FEATURED COLUMNIST
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862   //    04 Feb 2018, 00:43 IST

pv sindhu
PV Sindhu in action at the India Open 2018 in New Delhi on Saturday

Top seed and defending champion PV Sindhu dished out an impressive performance to beat World No. 3 Ratchanok Intanon in the semi-finals of the $350,000 Dr Akhilesh Das Gupta India Open 2018 at the Siri Fort Sports Complex in New Delhi on Saturday. The India No. 1 was hardly ever threatened in the 48-minute clash and notched up a 21-13, 21-15 win.

In the mixed doubles section, the eighth seeded pair of Pranaav Jerry Chopra and N Sikki Reddy lost 16-21, 19-21 to the fifth seeds Mathias Christiansen and Christinna Pedersen in 45 minutes.

The fourth-ranked Sindhu was at her aggressive best and never hesitated to go for her crosscourt smashes that took the game away from the Thai, who won the Malaysia Masters two weeks ago. Sindhu had a 2-4 losing head-to-head record prior to this showdown but had won their most recent encounter at the Hong Kong Open Superseries last November.

And she continued from there. The Thai opened up a 2-0 lead to start the match but since then, it was all Sindhu as the Indian raced ahead to 13-3. Intanon then managed to bag four points on the trot before Sindhu surprised her with a half smash and once again snatched the momentum.

A few more smashes saw the Indian wrapping up the opener at 21-13.

The initial stages of the second game appeared to be competitive as Intanon made it 5-5. Once more Sindhu pulled the trigger with her array of jump smashes that Intanon had no answer to.

Post-interval, there was a brief fightback from the former world champion, who trailed 11-13. But right at that juncture, Sindhu amped up her intensity and the speed of her shots to stun the experienced Thai.

Intanon was able to save only one match point only to see the home hope converting on her second, much to the delight of the crowd at the stadium.

Sindhu is now on a nine-match winning streak at this tournament. In the final, she will face the 11th ranked Beiwen Zhang, who had accounted for Saina Nehwal in the quarter-finals.

Chopra and Reddy crumble under pressure

The mixed doubles pair of Reddy and Chopra had their chances but they continued to make mistakes under pressure, which helped steer the match in the direction of the higher-seeded Danes. Despite being a relatively new pairing, Christiansen and Pedersen made it to back-to-back Superseries finals at the China Open and the Hong Kong Open towards the end of last year.

And they brought that confidence when the Indian duo started giving some stiff resistance.

Chopra and Reddy fought back from a deficit to keep the opening game level till 15-15. But a couple of loose shots from them turned the tide in the Danish team’s favour and the Indians could not recover from it.

The second game was pretty similar as they again showed their resilience to even things at 13-13. There wasn’t much to separate the two teams till 18-18. A crucial service error from Reddy and a mistake at the net from Chopra awarded the fifth seeds two match points.

The Indians were able to force the Danes into an unforced error on their first match point but could not save the second as Reddy hit the shuttle wide.


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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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