Badminton Worlds: Sindhu overcomes Yamaguchi to enter final

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Nanjing (China) : Indian women's singles star P.V. Sindhu overcame Japanese second seed Akane Yamaguchi in straight games here on Saturday to march into the second consecutive final of the Badminton World Championships.

Third seed Sindhu, a three-time World Championships medallist, prevailed 21-16, 24-22 in 55 minutes over Yamaguchi in a semi-final to set up the title clash against Spanish seventh seed and two-time former world champion Carolina Marin.

Carolina, the 2016 Olympic champion, overcame China's sixth seed He Bingjiao with a 13-21, 21-16, 21-13 victory in an hour and nine minutes in the other semi-final.

The final pits Sindhu against Carolina, who defeated the Hyderabadi in the Rio Games 2016. Even though they have won six matches each against each other, Sindhu has won three out of four games she faced Carolina since the final loss in Rio.

For Sindhu, it will be yet another great opportunity to become the first Indian to win a world title as she continues to drive the country's badminton to newer heights.

Against 2017 Asian Championships silver medallist Yamaguchi, Sindhu, 23, was calm and composed even though the 21-year-old Japanese put her in difficult situations with good starts in both the games. Sindhu benefited a lot from several unforced errors on the part of Yamaguchi.

In the first game, Yamaguchi raced away to a 5-0 lead when Sindhu showed the urgency to win three consecutive points. Sindhu pulled level on the eight-point mark riding on a five points on the trot which also gave her the 9-8 lead even though the Japanese went into the mid-game interval with a one-point lead.

After the break, Yamaguchi looked rusty and hurried as she lacked concentration, hitting decent opportunistic shots wide and long. It helped Sindhu to race to an 18-12 lead before she won it 21-16.

In the second game, Yamaguchi slightly changed her approach as she didn't give much flight on the shuttle to Sindhu. Yamaguchi played very quick and fast badminton to trouble the Indian's momentum. A very bright start gave Yamaguchi an 8-4 lead but Sindhu came closest to equalise at 7-8.

However, Yamaguchi continued her impressive start by sticking to her sharp shuttle play. She was very quick on her movements and the strokes flew rightly with her confidence. She made Sinfhu play back and forth and the Indian made some defensive errors, especially on her left side.

It seemed the match was going to the third and final game when Yamaguchi led 19-12, only two points away from the winning the second game.

However, despite the wide gap, a determined Sindhu refused to surrender, digging deep into the approach of a professional for whom every point counts. She reeled off eight points on the trot to stun her younger rival who looked complacent.

Yamaguchi tried to play cunning net game but it didn't work for her as Sindhu retrieved from all angles. Yamaguchi and Sindhu then exchanged a point each with some extraordinary rallies till the 22-point mark, with the Japanese earning couple of point on body-smashes on the Indian.

Afterwards, Sindhu forced an error before a drop shot hit the net and fell on the other side of the net as Yamaguchi dived unsuccessfully to reach it, giving the Sindhu a 24-22 win.

With this win, Sindhu has taken a 7-4 lead in head-to-head record.

Meanwhile, the men's singles final will be fought between Chinese third seed Shi Yuqi and Japanese sixth seed Kento Momota.

Yuqi moved past compatriot and two-time world champion Chen Long 21-11, 21-17 in 44 minutes, while rising star Momota ended the dream run of Malaysian Daren Liew with a 21-16, 21-5 victory in 38 minutes.

In the mixed doubles final, Chinese top seeds Zheng and Huang Yaqiong will meet compatriot second seeds Wang Yilyu and Huang Dongping.

The women's doubles final will be an all-Japanese affair between second seeds Yuki Fukushima and Sayaka Hirota and 11th seeds Mayu Matsumoto and Wakana Nagahara.

In the men's doubles final, Japanese fifth seeds Takeshi Kamura and Keigo Sonoda will take on Chinese fourth seeds Li Junhui and Liu Yuchen.