Sports

All England Open: Yamaguchi beats Sindhu in semi-final

All England Open: Yamaguchi beats Sindhu in semi-final

Sindhu, who had to sweat hard in her opening game on Wednesday too, started the match aggressively and was leading 6-3 in no time.

Sindhu had clinched the first game 21-19 in just 20 minutes but lost the next two games 19-21, 18-21 to bow out of badminton's most prestigious tournament and also bring an end to India's campaign.

But on Saturday at the Arena Birmingham, Sindhu took off brilliantly, taking a 6-0 lead in the first game.

The women's singles semi-final between Sindhu and Yamaguchi will start at 5 pm local time, 9:30 pm IST and 4 pm GMT.

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The Japanese shuttler defeated Sindhu 19-21, 21-19, 21-18 to book her berth for the final where she will take on World No. 1 Tai Tzu Ying. The Japanese makes it 14-17 against Sindhu. The Indian leads 19-17 now. She leads second game 3-2. A sensational victory saw her equal her win record against Okuhara at 5-5. Sindhu played a brilliant backhand return to move to 8-3 and eventually entered the interval with another precise stroke at the back of the court.

The Japanese constructed the rallies superbly and sealed it with a smash to again erase the deficit and grabbed a two point lead when Sindhu erred at the net twice. "The first point came from a scorching bodyline attack on the 5'2" Yamaguchi. Sindhu then closed out the net and sent Okuhara to the corners with her acute returns to reel off four points to level par. The duo exchanged points after that and the contest was well balanced at 18-18, but Sindhu held her nerves to wrap up the decider 21-18.

Sindhu then lost two successive challenges after her and Okuhara's shots went wide as the Japanese earned the bragging rights.

Despite being on the court for nearly 3 and a half hours during the three-game matches in last three days, Sindhu didn't show any sign of fatigue and matched the nimble-footed Yamaguchi as they looked to outdo each other.

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But the Indian reeled off 10 straight points to turn the tables and grab a 15-12 advantage. This was Sindhu's fourth loss to Akane in 10 meetings.

"I am coming to the point where I can play my game and my knee is kind of ok, but it is not 100% yet". But it was closer to the ground, in the low pick ups and desperate retrieves that Yamaguchi was gaining ascendancy with her lower centre of gravity and natural athleticism.

"It was a good match and she also played really well". But Yamaguchi collected herself and stitched together a crucial seven-point winning streak, which was snapped after a push went long.

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