All England Open: Sindhu fends off Okuhara, enters semis

Doug Mendoza
March 18, 2018

It was a mixed day for India at the All England Open Badminton Championships in Birmingham on Thursday as its shuttlers faced different outcomes in the second round of the tournament.

Meanwhile, among the men, India's HS Prannoy progressed to the quarter-finals.

At the highest stage, Sindhu, who nearly teared up after conceding the match point, failed to go that extra stretch yet again.

Tournament favourites Marcus Fernaldi Gideon / Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo (pictured) are on track to defend their title in Birmingham after beating Chen Hung Ling / Wang Chi-Lin in straight games, 21-15, 21-13.

The Indian entered the last eight after outplaying Thailand's Nitchaon Jindapol 21-13, 13-21, 21-18 in over 66 minutes. She will now take on the victor of the match between Carolina Marin and Akane Yamaguchi in the summit clash.

"I definitely need to improve". I hope I would go back, recover and come back stronger tomorrow. "We had to give our best", Sindhu said.

"It was a tough match and I think both of them are used to playing long matches, and it is good that she ended on the right side this time but Okuhara has been a fantastic fighter and it is great entertainment for the spectators", he said. She lost 21-19, 19-21, 18-21 to Akane Yamaguchi. "Each point really mattered for both us". I was down in the decider and she was leading 16-12. "I made too many unforced errors there", Sindhu added.

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New Delhi:Olympic silver medallist P V Sindhu says losing close matches from advantageous position dealt a blow to her confidence and she is looking to overcome it by working on the mental aspect of her game.

Okuhara showed immaculate defence to maintain her one point advantage at 12-11 when she pushed one at the back after Sindhu responded with a barrage of smashes. Sindhu still leads 13-10. But Yamaguchi collected herself and stitched together a crucial seven-point winning streak, which was snapped after a push went long.

Sindhu was very aggressive in the first game but the Japanese fought back and won the battle of nerves in the second game. Sindhu gained a 6-4 lead briefly after an unsuccessful referral by Okuhara. Sindhu then lost two successive challenges and the first game.

However, Sindhu has spent 79 minutes more on the court than Yamaguchi and fatigue can be a cause of concern if Saturday's semi-final goes to three games.

The Indian dominated the net next and then sent one to the back line to grab two match points and then sealed the contest with another precise on-the-line return, much to the delight of the Indian fans.

Prannoy, who slipped to world no 16 after missing a few tournaments earlier in the year, will now face Yuxiang in the quarters. The final score was 20-22, 21-18, 21-18.

After winning the first game easily, Sindhu found it hard in the second game as she surrendered the game without giving much fight. But the truth remains that her net game is not so polished, her backhand is not so efficient always. She leveled it at 17-all. After the breather, Okuhara extended her lead to 14-11. It is not over because tomorrow going to be a big match.

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