In the badminton world, P.V. Sindhu is considered India’s next big name after Saina Nehwal. After all, in the past year, the 17-year-old has given ample evidence of her talent, beating the reigning Olympic champion Li Xuerui and former World number one Wang Shixian in reaching a career-high world ranking of 15!
On Friday, Sindhu’s stature grew taller than her five-feet-10-inch frame. The teenager achieved a feat that Saina could not. Sindhu became the first Indian lady to reach the semifinals of the $200,000 India Open badminton championship, quite fittingly, outplaying Japan’s Yui Hashimoto who had conquered Saina on Thursday.
Sindhu’s 21-16, 21-16 victory, lustily cheered by a vociferous crowd at the Siri Fort Indoor Stadium here, earned her a second Superseries semifinal appearance. On Saturday, Sindhu faces Thailand’s rising star, third seed Ratchanok Intanon.
The Thai girl, who stunned Saina in the semifinals of the All England championship last month, survived the loss of the opening game to overpower former National runner-up Arundhati Pantawane.
Sindhu, who allowed Hashimoto nine straight points to close the gap to 16-19 in the first game, said, “In the Swiss Open this year, I led 14-7 against Hashimoto but still lost. The thought came to my mind and I wanted to finish the game quickly.
“I committed some mistakes but felt confident since I was playing well. I am very happy with the way I played the long rallies and hit my strokes.”
In the bottom half of the draw, second seed Germany’s Juliane Schenk scored her eighth win in nine meetings with fifth seed Yeon Ju Bae, the left-handed Korean who took out Saina in the last edition here.
Schenk now plays Indonesia’s Aprilla Yuswandari who posted her third straight win over Thailand’s Nichaon Jinadapon.
Overall, on a day when five men and two ladies presented the Indian challenge in the quarterfinals, only Sindhu and 53rd ranked Anand Pawar survived. In fact, Anand needed just 30 minutes to oust Ajay Jayaram, the second-best Indian in the list headed by P. Kashyap, 21-6, 21-16.
Anand, who stunned World number five Hu Yun in the pre-quarterfinals, will play sixth seed Kenichi Tago in his first semifinals of a BWF superseries event.
The Japanese ended the gallant run of young B. Sai Praneeth in three games before R.M.V. Gurusaidutt stretched seventh seed Boonsak Ponsana to an extended battle in 57 minutes.
H.S. Prannoy, the conqueror of 2004 Olympic champion Taufik Hidayat on Thursday, expectedly surrendered to World number one Lee Chong Wei.
Prannoy raised visions of taking the second game when leading 18-12 and 19-16 before the World number one decided enough was enough.
The results (quarterfinals, Indians unless stated otherwise): Men: Lee Chong Wei (Mas) bt H.S. Prannoy 21-14, 21-19; Boonsak Ponsana (Tha) bt R.M.V. Gurusaidutt 21-12, 12-21, 21-12; Anand Pawar bt Ajay Jayaram 21-6, 21-6; Kenichi Tago (Jpn) bt B. Sai Praneeth 21-17, 19-21, 21-11.
Women: P.V. Sindhu bt Yui Hashimoto (Jpn) 21-16, 21-16; Ratchanok Intanon (Tha) bt Arundhati Pantawane 14-21, 21-7, 21-16; Aprilla Yuswandari (Ina) bt Nichaon Jindapon (Tha) 18-21, 21-16, 21-18; Juliane Schenk (Ger) bt Yeon Ju Bae (Kor) 21-17, 21-13.