Leading Indian shuttler PV Sindhu was in sublime form as she defeated Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon 21-17, 21-17 in the semi-finals of USD 400,000 Hong Kong Open and clinched a spot in the final of the tournament.
Sindhu displayed amazing skills to earn a majestic victory in two straight sets. Earlier, in the quarter-finals she had thrashed Akane Yamaguchi of Japan by a scoreline of 21-19, 21-19.
Sindhu, a silver medallist at World Championship, will next face top seed and world no. 1 Tai Tzu Ying, hoping to emulate Saina Nehwal and Prakash Padukone, who had clinched this title in 2010 and 1982.
Locking horns with Intanon after 18 months, Sindhu showed her prowess as she countered the deceptive strokes of her rival with her better defence, which included superb backhand returns and attacking game plan.
In the opening game, Sindhu jumped to a 6-2 lead early on and continued her march ahead, despite some good-looking strokes from the Thai player. A cross-court smash from the Indian left her opponent stranded and allowed Sindhu to grab an 11-7 lead after seven minutes of play.
In the second game, Intanon had a 3-1 lead before Sindhu drew parity. An onrushing smash helped Sindhu take a 5-4 lead. However, two unforced errors again gave the lead back to Intanon. The Thai shuttler then sent a backhand return in a wide manner and it was 6-6.
Intanon continued to commit errors, finding it difficult to get the bird away. Sindhu produced another instinctive reactionary stroke to put the shuttle across to move to 10-6 lead with Intanon again going wide. It was Sindhu who had a healthy advantage at the mid-game breather.
A brilliant forehand defensive return after the break left a stretched Intanon. The Thai player produced a body line smash and returned a Sindhu backhand to grab two points. But the Indian then unleashed a smash to move to 13-9.
Intanon continued to snap at her heels, making it 12-13 with her immaculate placements. A body smash and a controlled deep return from Sindhu helped her extend the lead to 16- 13.
A magnificent on the line smash was followed by two miscued strokes as Sindhu led 18-14. The Indian faltered with a net return and then Intanon produced a straight smash to make it 16-18.
However, the Thai sent the shuttle out again to give another point to Sindhu. Intanon grabbed another point with a precise return before she went wide to give match point opportunity to Sindhu, who grabbed it after winning a referral following another wide shot from the Thai shuttler.
With PTI inputs