Nearly four months after meeting at the Tokyo Olympics quarterfinals, familiar foes PV Sindhu and Akane Yamaguchi will square off in a blockbuster semifinal at the Indonesia Masters 2021 in Bali on Friday.
Although the Japanese dominated their rivalry in 2019, winning three matches in a row, Sindhu has managed to turn the tables on Yamaguchi this year, emerging victorious in two meetings so far. While their All England Open face-off went the distance, the World No. 7 managed to hold her nerves to stave off a late surge from Yamaguchi at the Tokyo Olympics for a 21-13, 22-20 win.
Since that loss to Sindhu, Yamaguchi went on a tear. The World No. 3 captured back-to-back titles at the Denmark Open and the French Open in a memorable European swing. She has added three more victories at the Indonesia Masters this week to extend her winning streak to 13.
Sindhu, in contrast, hasn't managed to find her peak form post the Tokyo Olympics. Since bagging the Olympic bronze, the world champion has fallen in the quarterfinals at Odense and the semifinals in Paris.
This week she began her Indonesia Masters campaign with a convincing 21-15, 21-19 win over the 33rd-ranked Supanida Katethong. But World No. 47 Clara Azurmendi made Sindhu work hard in the second round before the Indian could eke out a 17-21, 21-7, 21-12 win.
Against World No. 30 Neslihan Yigit in the quarterfinals, the two-time Olympic medalist was more like her usual self, running away to a commanding 21-13, 21-10 win.
By virtue of recent form, Yamaguchi remains the favorite to come through this mouthwatering contest. She has come back to the circuit with extra motivation after having squandered the opportunity to win a prized Olympic medal at home.
But it is also to be noted that the Japanese was involved in a couple of three-game thrillers in the last couple of rounds. While Yamaguchi's last match was completed in 55 minutes, Sindhu got her win in a breezy 35 minutes.
The Indian needs to capitalize on this and tire out Yamaguchi. However, it is easier said than done. The former World No. 1 is one of the best at converting defense into offense and Sindhu needs to come out with all-out aggression right from the start to put herself in contention for her first final since March.
Indonesia Masters 2021: Match details
Fixture: (3) PV Sindhu vs (1) Akane Yamaguchi
Head-to-head: PV Sindhu leads Akane Yamaguchi 12-7, having beaten the Japanese 21-13, 22-20 in their last meeting at the Tokyo Olympics earlier this year.
Date: 20 November 2021
Time: Approx 12:40 pm local time, 10:10 am IST
Tournament: Daihatsu Indonesia Masters 2021
Venue: Bali, Indonesia
Category: BWF World Tour Super 750
Prize money: $600,000
Indonesia Masters 2021: TV schedule
The Indonesia Masters 2021 is being live telecast on the Star Sports 3 & Star Sports 2 HD TV channels.
Indonesia Masters 2021: Live streaming details
The Indonesia Masters 2021 can be live-streamed on the Disney+Hotstar app.
Poll : Who will win the blockbuster Indonesia Masters semifinal match?