Defending champion P V Sindhu stood just one step away from retaining her title after defeating Thailand's Ratchanok Inthanon in a lop-sided semi-final at the $ 350,000 India Open Super 500 tournament in New Delhi on Saturday.
Sindhu dished out an aggressive game to outwit world No 3 Ratchanok 21-13, 21-15 in the second semi-final which ended an hour before midnight at the Siri Fort Sports Complex.
In the much-awaited semi-final, Sindhu engaged her rival in fast-paced rallies, producing some acute-angled returns and better reach to dominate the proceedings.
It seemed like a lop-sided affair as Sindhu soon grabbed a 11-3 advantage at the lemon break after reeling off 10 straight points from 1-3.
Ratchanok seemed to struggle with her returns as most of her shots went wide and long or ended up at the net. Sindhu, however, looked sharp and entered the break after pushing the shuttle at the back of the court.
Ratchanok tried to make a comeback and won a few points to make it 8-14 but Sindhu started dominating the rallies again to move to 16-9.
At 12-18, Ratchanok found the net twice to hand over eight game points to Sindhu. The Thai girl saved one before she again netted her return to hand the first game to the Indian.
In the second game, the duo couldn’t be separated in the first 12 points as they moved neck-and-neck till 6-6, before Sindhu moved ahead using her drops and powerful smash and also aided by Ratchanok's miscued strokes to lead 11-7.
After the interval, Ratchanok narrowed the deficit to 10-12 and then 11-13 but Sindhu seemed always a step ahead. She anticipated the shots well and soon surged to 16-13 when Ratchanok went wide again.
Ratchanok continued to struggle with her returns and in the end it was a tight net return by Sindhu which took her to five match point and she converted it when the Thai again went long.
The Olympic silver medallist will face World No 11 American Beiwen Zhang in the finals on Sunday.
Indian mixed doubles pair of Pranaav Jerry Chopra and N Sikki Reddy, who had reached the semifinals of the Japan Open last year, went down 16-21, 19-21 against the fifth seeded Danish pair of Mathias Christiansen and Christinna Pedersen in a semi-final match, which saw the Indian duo winning four video
Mathias and Christinna had combined at the Denmark Open for the first time and it is their third finals of a major event after having finished runners-up at China Open Super Series Premier and Hong Kong Open Super Series last year.
Among others, world no 11 American Beiwen Zhang entered the finals after edging out Hong Kong’s sixth seeded Cheung Ngan Yi of Hong Kong 14-21, 21-12, 21-19 in the first women’s singles semi-finals.
All England Championships finalist Shi Yuqi of China set up an exciting men’s singles summit clash with world no 7 Taiwanese Chou Tien Chen, who had also reached the finals last year at India Open Super Series.
In the first semifinals, third seed Chen notched up a hard-fought 23-21, 21-16 win over China’s Qiao Bin, who is a winner of 2016 Korea Open.