India Open Badminton: Both Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu expect a tough match as they square off in the much-anticipated quarter-final
What’s the story?
India’s two biggest badminton icons Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu are all set to face off in the quarterfinals of the Yonex Sunrise India Open Superseries after recording straight-game victories in their respective Round of 16 games. Nehwal comfortably defeated Pornpawee Chochuwong 21-14, 21-12, while Sindhu was made to sweat by 19-year-old Saena Kawakami, who fought tooth and nail, before going down 21-16, 23-21.
“I gave away a few unnecessary points towards the end of the second game, I could have kept the score under 10,” said Nehwal after the match. “But I feel much better than yesterday and I feel I’m improving.”
When asked about the prospect of facing Sindhu in the next round, she quipped, “It will be a tough match, of course. I can only play what is in front of me. All top 10 players are almost equal and each point will be hard-fought.”
Sindhu saved a game point in the second game before finishing off the match against her Japanese opponent. “It was my first game against her. I didn’t take it easy at any moment and it was anybody’s game in the second game. Sometimes these things happen,” said Sindhu.
She was also quizzed about her quarterfinal match and she replied with a smile, “Yes, it will be a good match! I know everyone will be looking forward to it and I will give my best. It is not going to be easy!”
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Nehwal had entered the Round of 16 after defeating Chinese Taipei’s Chia Hsin Lee 21-10 21-17, while Sindhu had to overcome compatriot Arundhati Pantawane 21-17 21-6.
Sindhu had recently defeated Nehwal in their Premier Badminton League clash, which was contested in an 11-point game format. The last time the two met in routine competition was in 2014 in the Syed Modi International, where Saina prevailed 21-14 21-17.
The heart of the matter
Nehwal overcame her Thai opponent in quick time, winning the first game 21-14 while leading throughout. In the second, she reeled off 11 straight points to grab a commanding 17-5 lead, but let Chochuwong pick up a few points towards the end with some loose shots. It ended at 21-12 as Nehwal unleashed a powerful forehand smash, which her opponent could only push to beyond the baseline.
The other matchup was much more even, with the players splitting the first 20 points in the first game. Sindhu then proceeded to win eight of the next 10 exchanges and closed it out at 21-16. The second followed the same pattern and it looked as if the Thai shuttler was holding the advantage at 16-18.
The Hyderabadi then reeled off four points in a row to garner two match points but Chochuwong fought back to take a 20-21 lead and thus earn a game point. Sindhu showed her mettle as she picked up the next three to settle the tie at 23-21, a fortuitous net cord enabling her to convert her third match point.
The Indian duo will now face off in the quarterfinal, which will take place at the Siri Fort Sports Complex in New Delhi. The only other Indian left in the fray in the men’s singles is Sameer Verma, who face Danish Anders Antonsen in his last-eight match.
With an Olympic medal each, Nehwal and Sindhu have been the biggest names in Indian badminton for a while and an encounter between the two is sure to be a sight to behold. If you’re a fan of badminton, this match is surely not one you can afford to miss.