World Championships: Sensational Sindhu assures India a medal

Guangzhou, Aug 9 (IANS) Tenth seed P.V. Sindhu created history Friday by assuring India of at least a bronze medal at the World Badminton Championships, beating former World No.1 Shixian Wang in straight games at the Tianhe Indoor Stadium here.

Sindhu had already caused a big upset Thursday by knocking out defending champion Yihan Wang of China. The 18-year-old took just 55 minutes to oust the seventh seeded Chinese 21-18, 21-17 in the women's singles quarterfinal to go 2-0 up in career meetings.

This is only the third instance, and first in women's singles, that an Indian will bring home a medal from the Worlds. Prakash Padukone won the men's singles bronze in 1983 at Copenhagen while Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa won another bronze in women's doubles in the 2011 edition.

After Saina Nehwal and Parupalli Kashyap suffered quarterfinal defeats earlier in the day, Sindhu made sure that India's campaign will continue on the penultimate day of the Championships.

Saina's medal hopes were shattered by South Korean 13th seed Yeon Ju Bae, who beat the Indian 23-21, 21-9 in 40 minutes while Kashyap wasted a matchpoint and lost a gruelling one hour and 15-minute men's singles battle to Chinese World No.3 Pengyu Du 16-21, 22-20, 21-15.

Sindhu, who is debuting at the championships, led from the start in the first game and rushed away to a 10-5 lead. Though Shixian, a 2010 World Championship bronze medallist, clawed back to make it 12-13, Sindhu ensured that she never surrendered the lead. A superb all-round game made sure that the Hyderabadi maintained her advantage, even if it was only by a point, and sealed the game with a gap of three.

The World No.12 lagged 1-2 at the start of the second game but quickly got her bearings back and led for the rest of the game. From a 6-2 lead, the tall lanky teenager again ensured that she maintained her lead throughout the rest of the game. From 18-16, she scooped the next two points to have four match points.

Shixian was able to save one but an error gave the 10th seed a victory on her second chance and ensured India the first Worlds singles medal in 30 years.

Sindhu will next face Thai fourth seeded Ratchanok Intanon, who had defeated the Indian in their only encounter at the India Open in April.

"I am very happy that everything went according to the plan. It is great to win a medal in my very first World Championship appearance but I want to now concentrate on tomorrow's match and not allow myself to relax," said Sindhu.

For Saina, this was probably her best chance for a women's singles medal at the world event after failing to do so and exiting in the quarters in the last three editions (2009, 2010, 2011).

The World No.4 Hyderabadi took off in brilliant fashion scooping several points with the help of 10 smash winners to go up 14-7 in the lead in the first game. The South Korean clawed back to level the game at 19-all and then reach game point (21-20). Saina pulled back a point but the Korean had more shots in her kitty and sealed the first game on her second game-point.

The form which Yeon found at the end of the first game, continued into the second as she slowly overtook Saina's lead and raced away to 9-4. With some extremely agile net play, the Korean kept extending the lead.

By this time, Saina appeared less confident and the 13th seed capitalised on it, completely shattering the Indian's game and scooping the last seven points to win the game and match.


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