World Badminton Championships 2017 Day 4 roundup: PV Sindhu, Saina Nehwal, Srikanth Kidambi enter quarter-finals
Sindhu made an epic comeback after being two points away from defeat.
The Big 3 of Indian badminton did not disappoint as PV Sindhu, Saina Nehwal and Srikanth Kidambi each booked their places in the quarter-finals of the BWF World Championships 2017 at Glasgow, Scotland on Thursday. The World No. 4 Sindhu - the highest ranked among the three - had to work the hardest as she edged out a spirited 17th-ranked Cheung Ngan Yi of Hong Kong, 19-21, 23-21, 21-17 in 1 hour 27 minutes.
2015 runner-up Saina Nehwal came back from behind in each game to prevail over the second seed and World No. 3 Sung Ji Hyun, 21-19, 21-15. Men’s singles eighth seed Srikanth Kidambi had the easiest outing of the three as he cruised to a 21-14, 21-18 victory over the 14th-seeded Danish rising star Anders Antonsen.
Sindhu’s epic comeback
Sindhu’s comeback win was one that was a pure demonstration of survival of the fittest. She had never lost to Cheung before and boasted of a 3-0 record.
But it was the Hong Kong shuttler who had the upper hand for more than half of the match as the Indian found herself just two points away from defeat in the second game.
With Sindhu being a bit sluggish in the first game, the extremely competitive opener went to the World No. 17, who held her nerve to take it 21-19.
The two-time World Championships bronze medallist looked comfortable in the second game and led 8-4, but it evaporated soon after as a determined Cheung made her way back to seize an 11-10 advantage at the interval.
In a tense finish to the game, Sindhu broke away from 17-17 to have three game points each of which was erased by Cheung’s thunderous smashes. Locked at 21-21, the lanky Hyderabadi was two points away from exiting the tournament.
Finally, the fourth seed closed out the game on her fifth game point to force a decider.
Cheung kept it close even in the third set after initially conceding a 4-11 advantage to the Rio Olympic silver medallist.
She made it 12-12 and then kept pegging Sindhu back even when the Indian had three match points before the latter was able to slam shut the match on her third match point.
Sindhu next faces the fifth seed Sun Yu for a place in the semi-finals.
Confidence-boosting win for Saina
Saina Nehwal had to dig deep to find her best form as the Korean Sung led in each of the two games. Sung built a 7-2 lead only to see a patient Saina heading back and levelling the scores in the first game.
Sung once again soared to 15-10 before a tenacious Saina started moving the World No. 3 from corner to corner and efficiently extracted errors that left Sung clueless. From 17-17, she marched her way forward and ground out a gutsy first game.
Once more, the second seed looked all set to make a match out of it as she surged to 11-7 at the interval in the second game. Saina found her cross court and body smashes just in time to secure the win in 47 minutes.
This was the second consecutive win for the former World No. 1 over the Korean after prevailing over her at the Australian Open in June. Saina thus advanced to her seventh consecutive quarterfinal at the World Championships.
The 2015 runner-up next takes on the 16th seed Kirsty Gilmour in the last-eight.
Srikanth breezes past young Dane
A sharp Srikanth Kidambi breezed past the 14th seeded Anders Antonsen for his 13th consecutive win following his triumphs at the Indonesia Open and the Australian Open in June.
The closest the Dane came to Srikanth in the first game was when he trailed 11-13. But the eighth seed soon put brakes on his momentum to grab the opener.
The relentless Indian led 11-3 in the second game following which the Dane went on a five-point winning streak to close the gap to 8-11. It did not take much time for the India No. 1 to reassert himself and surge to 20-15.
Antonsen put up some last-minute fightback by saving three match points before Srikanth dashed his hopes.
Srikanth has a very familiar opponent up next - the World No. 1 Son Wan Ho. He had got the better of the Korean in their last two showdowns at the Indonesia Open and the Australian Open.
Heartbreaking defeat for Sikki and Pranaav
Among the other Indians in action on Day 4, the 15th seeded mixed doubles pair of N Sikki Reddy and Pranaav Jerry Chopra had the narrowest loss as they went down 22-20, 18-21, 18-21 to the seventh seeds Praveen Jordan and Debby Susanto of Indonesia in 1 hour 3 minutes.
Singapore Open and Thailand Open champion B Sai Praneeth’s World Championships debut ended in a pre-quarter-final loss at the hands of the sixth seed and World No. 4 Chou Tien Chen even though the Indian put up an impressive show.
Sai managed to edge the Chinese Taipei ace in the first game but faded away in the end as he succumbed to a 21-19, 10-21, 12-21 defeat.
The 13th seeded Ajay Jayaram was shown the exit door by the two-time defending champion and fifth seed Chen Long, 11-21, 10-21.