BWF World Tour Finals: Sindhu edges Yamaguchi to enter final

P V Sindhu
Sindhu is ecstatic after winning the semifinal. Photo: AFP

Bali: Indian badminton ace P V Sindhu entered the summit clash of BWF World Tour Finals with a hard-fought win over Akane Yamaguchi of Japan in the semifinals here on Saturday.

Sindhu, the reigning world champion and two-time Olympic medallist, beat Yamaguchi 21-15, 15-21, 21-19 in a thrilling match that lasted one hour and 10 minutes.

Indian youngster Lakshya Sen lost to Denmark's Viktor Axelsen 13-21, 11-21 in the men's single semifinals.

Sindhu will face Korea's An Seyoung, who beat Pornpawee Chochuwong of Thailand 25-23, 21-17 in the other semifinal, in the summit clash on Sunday.

It will be Sindhu's third final appearance in the season-ending tournament. She had won the title in 2018 to become the only Indian to achieve the feat.

The world No. 7 had come into the match with an overall head-to-head win-loss record of 12-8 against the world No. 3 Japanese.

Sindhu has been in fine form after picking up a bronze in the Tokyo Olympics. She had reached the semifinals in her last three events -- French Open, Indonesia Masters and Indonesia Open -- before coming into the BWF World Tour Finals.

She had finished runner-up in the Swiss Open in March.

But it won't be easy for Sindhu in the final against Seyoung who had come into the season-ending tournament with back-to-back titles in the Indonesia Masters and Indonesia Open.

The world No. 6 Seyoung had also beaten Sindhu in the quarterfinals of the Denmark Open in October.

Against Yamaguchi, Sindhu trailed 0-4 in the first game but quickly came to level terms at 4-4 and then 9-9. The two were neck and neck but Sindhu zoomed ahead from 15-14 to reach 18-15. She then took three straight points to pocket the first game.

The second game was also a tight contest as the two players were levelled at 10-10 before Yamaguchi shifted the gear to pocket it without much fuss.

In the deciding game, Sindhu and Yamaguchi were tied at 5-5 before the Indian reeled off seven straight points. The Japanese made a sort of comeback by narrowing down the gap to 11-13 but Sindhu cruised to 17-12.

Yamaguchi was not the one to throw the towel without a fight and took the scoreline to 19-19. But Sindhu saved the best for the last as she won two consecutive points to win the third game and pocket the match.

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