French Open: Prannoy-Srikanth in last-four clash, Sindhu advances

Three Indians — P.V. Sindhu, H.S. Prannoy and Kidambi Srikanth — stormed into the semifinals of the French Open Superseries with thumping wins in their respective quarterfinal matches. With Srikanth meeting Prannoy, one Indian is assured of a place in the final.

P.V. Sindhu in action during a Premier Badminton League match.   -  G.P. Sampath Kumar

India's Kidambi Srikanth set up a mouthwatering semifinal clash with compatriot H.S. Prannoy after Srikanth laboured to a 8-21, 21-19, 21-9 win over Yuqi Shi in the quarterfinal of the French Open Super Series here on Friday.

Srikanth is joined by India's badminton poster girl P.V. Sindhu and Prannoy in the last four. Sindhu beat Chen Yufei of China 21-14, 21-14 in the women's singles while Prannoy breezed past Hyeok Jin Jeon 21-16, 21-16 in his men's singles quarterfinal match.

This is Sindhu’s first-ever last-four appearance in the tournament. The Olympic silver medallist took just 41 minutes to brush aside the challenge of World No. 10 Yufei in the quarterfinals.

By virtue of this win, Indian had avenged upon her opening round loss to the Chinese at the Denmark Open, last week.

Sindhu, who had defeated Yufei at the World Championships, now leads the Chinese 3-2 in the overall head-to-head record.

Sindhu was in her element as she used her long reach and court coverage to flummox her opponent and get the better of her with consummate ease. Yufei was undone by numerous unforced errors.

Sindhu, seeded second, always enjoyed the upperhand in the duel, except for the first 10 points of the opening game where it was a tight battle between the duo.

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But once she surged ahead 12-10, there was no looking back as Sindhu controlled the game from there on with deft drop shots and down the line and cross court smashes to race to 18-12 lead.

Yufei managed to grab two points but unforced errors cost her dearly as she pushed a drop shot wide to hand the Indian the first game in 19 minutes.

Sindhu, however, was slow to get off the blocks in the second game as Yufei took a 3-0 lead.

But the Indian managed to claw her way back, courtesy unforced errors from the Chinese to draw level at 5-5.

From there on, Sindhu controlled the proceedings, except for a few unforced errors in between, to take a 11-7 lead at the break.

The Indian then managed to hold to her lead and pocketed the second game in 22 minutes to wrap up the issue.

Sindhu will next play Japanese fifth seed Akane Yamaguchi, who accounted for third seed Sung Ji Hyun of Korea 17-21, 21-15, 23-21 in the other quarterfinal. Yamaguchi had defeated Saina Nehwal in the second round on Thursday.