Sagarika Mukherjee got the better of Anqi Li of China to enter the finals of the Junior Girls category in the $8,000 Reliance India Junior and Cadet Open at the NSCI Stadium in Mumbai on Sunday.
The Indian will take on Yanmei Yang, who defeated compatriot Xiaotong Sun 4-1 in the other last four stage match, in the final to be played later this evening.
Ranked 146 in the world, Sagarika was down 1-3 and almost at the verge of crashing out. But she upped the ante to take her Chinese rival to full distance and win it 11-7 5-11 9-11 8-11 12-10 11-8 11-9 with pin-pointed precision to seal her final spot.
The girl from West Bengal, despite taking the first game rather easily, failed to counter the pace of Li whose close-to-the-table shots brooked little challenge from Sagarika.
In the crucial fifth game, Sagarika forced Li to play into her hands by slowing down the pace. Unable to come to terms with Sagarika’s push-and-prod game with sudden forehand winners, Li was rattled enough to lose the extended game.
That was the time when Sagarika raised her game a notch higher, while Li who was reeling under the pressure, slowly but surely wilted and allowed the Indian first level the score at 3-3 before turning on the heat in the decider, which Sagarika won with minimum points.
In the junior boys category, Abhisheh Yadav and Sudhanshu Grover will meet in the final, which will also be played this evening.
Both Yadav and Grover blanked out their rivals, Lalrin Puia and Utkarsh Gupta, respectively by an identical margin of 4-0.
Sagarika also reached the Cadet girls final, where she will meet Akula Sreeja. In the Cadet boys section, Arjun Ghosh and Birdie Boro will cross swords.