Sindhu storms into World Championships final

The Indian ace made light work of China's Chen Yufei, beating her 21-13, 21-10 in the semifinals.

P. V. Sindhu will square off against Japanese seventh seed Nozomi Okuhara in the final on Sunday.   -  AFP

India had a mixed day at the World Badminton Championships, with 2016 Olympic silver medallist P.V. Sindhu entering the final, while Saina Nehwal lost in the women’s singles semifinals here on Saturday.

Fourth seed Sindhu crushed Chinese ninth seed Chen Yufei of China 21-13, 21-10 in 48 minutes in a superlative display to set-up a title clash against Japanese seventh seed Nozomi Okuhara, who defeated Indian 12th seed Saina 12-21, 21-17, 21-10 earlier in the day.

Sindhu, a two-time World Championships bronze medallist, dominated her younger opponent from the beginning, not allowing the reigning world junior champion to settle in.Playing aggressively, Sindhu rattled 19-year-old Yufei with her barrage of attacking strokes.

Saina bows out

In the other semifinal, 2012 Olympic bronze medallist Saina lost against Okuhara as she settled for a bronze medal.

After winning the first game 21-12, Saina, who is yet to regain full fitness after her knee surgery in August 2016, and looked tired. Okuhara’s strategy of playing long rallies tested Saina’s fitness to the core.

World Championships 2015 runner-up Saina, who had a 6-1 head-to-head record against Okuhara coming into this game, started strongly, winning the first game 21-12 as the Japanese struggled to get into her rhythm.

The 22-year-old Japanese struggled with her net play and a few erratic line judgements to trail 6-11 which became 6-15 before losing 12-21.

Okuhara got off to a flying start in the second game, taking a 4-0 lead but the 27-year-old Saina fought back and equalised at the nine-point mark.

Saina kept pace with her younger and sharper opponent but she got tired towards the end. At 17-all, Saina wasted a great chance to take the lead as she fired a smash wide right.

Then, Okuhara claimed three consecutive points as she showed more energy and agility as a tired Saina failed to stop her from dictating the rallies.

In the third game, Okuhara completely dominated and her fast-paced game didn’t allow Saina to get back into it. Saina struggled with her movements and failed to reach for Okuhara’s delectable drop shots.

Okuhara, the 2012 world junior champion, raced away to an 11—4 lead and afterwards it was just a matter of time before the Japanese sealed the game at 21—10 and with this a place in the final.

“It was disappointing to have lost the despite being a game up. But overall I am happy that I made it to the semis after recently coming out of an injury. I gave it my best and I am pleased with that,” Saina said after the match.

Talking about how she lost the momentum during the match, Saina said, “She started to win long rallies after the first game and that was the main reason for her to make a comeback into the match.a

Okuhara became the first Japanese to reach the World Championships women’s singles final.

Sindhu, 22, and Okuhara, 22, have won three games apiece from six outings between them and in the Japanese, the Hyderabadi faces an opponent that likes to play fast—paced shuttle.