Paddler Sagarika enters junior TT finals

Mumbai, Oct 20 (IANS) Indian paddler Sagarika Mukherjee outsmarted China's Anqi Li to enter the finals of the junior girls at the $8,000 India Junior and Cadet Open at the NSCI Stadium here Sunday.

The Indian will take on Yanmei Yang in the final. Yang defeated compatriot Xiaotong Sun 4-1 in the other semifinal.

Ranked 146 in the world, Sagarika was down 1-3 and almost looked out when she upped the ante to take her Chinese rival the full distance and win 11-7, 5-11, 9-11, 8-11, 12-10, 11-8, 11-9 with pin-pointed precision.

The West Bengal girl despite taking the first game rather easily, failed to counter the pace of Li whose close-to-the-table shots brooked little challenge from Sagarika.

In the crucial fifth game, Sagarika forced Li play into her hands by slowing down the pace. Unable to come to terms with Sagarika's push-and-prod game with sudden forehand winners, Li was rattled enough to lose the extended game.

Sagarika raised her game a notch higher and reeling under the pressure Li wilted and allowed the Indian, first level the score at 3-3, before turning on the heat in the decider which Sagarika won with minimum points.

As for the junior boys, Abhisheh Yadav and Sudhanshu Grover will meet in the final. Both blanked out their rivals, Lalrin Puia and Utkarsh Gupta respectively, by an identical margin of 4-0.

Sagarika also reached the Cadet Girls final and will play Akula Sreeja while in the Cadet Boys category, Arjun Ghosh and Birdie Boro will cross swords.

Singles semifinal results:

Junior boys: Abhishek Yadav bt Lalrin Puia 4-0 (11-5, 11-9, 11-5, 11-8); Sudhanshu Grover bt Utkarsh Gupta 4-0 (12-10, 12-10, 11-8, 11-3).

Junior girls: Sagarika Mukherjee bt Anqi Li 4-3 (11-7, 5-11, 9-11, 8-11, 12-10, 11-8, 11-9); Yanmei Yang bt Xiaotong Sun 4-1 (11-7, 11-8, 8-11, 11-6, 11-5).

Cadet boys: Arjun Ghosh bt Anirban Ghosh 3-1 (11-9, 11-9, 10-12, 11-9); Birdie Boro bt Yuhao Wang 3-1 (11-5, 11-13, 11-9, 11-7).

Cadet girls: Sagarika Mukherjee bt Srushti Haleangadi 3-0 (11-5, 11-7, 11-6); Akula Sreeja bt C.R. Harshavardhini 3-2 (7-11, 5-11, 15-13, 11-6, 11-2).

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