Ace shuttler PV Sindhu entered the semifinals, beating 2016 champion Nozomi Okuhara of Japan in the 2018 All England Open being held in Birmingham on Friday. The world number 3 beat the Japanese sensation in a three-game thriller.
The Hyderabadi won the tie 20-22, 21-18, 21-18 in a battle that lasted an hour and 24 minutes here.
With this victory, Sindhu registered her fifth win over the Nagano-born World No 6 Japanese. Sindhu had lost to Okuhara in the World Championships final, who robbed her of a World Championship gold at Glasgow.
Seventh seeded Okuhara used long tosses and clears and cross court drops to make Sindhu run around the court. Sindhu was equally up to the task and the result was that the duo split the initial eight points.
The duo later moved neck and neck from 16-16 to 19-19 and then it was 20-20. She managed a 3-1 lead initially but Okuhara once again clawed her way back.
Okuhara made it 6-4 before Sindhu drew parity after the Japanese hit the net twice. She had a 9-7 lead and next she lost two points. A flat return on the forecourt and then a return at the back from close to the net gave Sindhu a 11-9 lead at the breather.
Okuhara missed the line next and then one went to net as it was 18-18 again. Okuhara missed the line twice again to hand over game points to Sindhu, who grabbed it this time when the Japanese miscued her stroke.
In the decider, Okuhara looked to assert her supremacy early on as she moved to 4-1 lead. A thunderous smash followed from the Indian who produced another smashing return to narrow the gap to 4-5. Sindhu then drew parity at 6-6 when Okuhara found the net.
A deft block by Sindhu took her to 8-6 but the Indian sent a low lift to net and then went wide as it was 8-8. An unsuccessful challenge by Okuhara gave another point to Sindhu.
After the breather, Okuhara extended her lead to 14-11. A reverse slice gave Sindhu a point but she committed two unforced errors as Okuhara jumped to 16-12.
Sindhu then closed out the net and sent Okuhara to the corners with her acute returns to reel off four points to level par. She went long next before unleashing another powerful smash to grab the lead. But she was handed a yellow card for slow play. She fought back with a reverse slice to move to 18-17 but a desperate return ended at the net.
The Indian dominated the net next and then sent one to the back line to grab two match points and then sealed the contest with another precise on-the-line return. (UNI)