New Delhi: Olympic silver medalist PV Sindhu and Kidambi Srikanth stood just one step away from grabbing a medal each at the World Badminton Championship after entering the quarter-finals of the singles events on Thursday.
Sindhu, who twice won a bronze medal at the 2013 and 2014 editions, survived a scare against Hong Kong’s Cheung Ngan Yi before prevailing 19-21, 23-21, 21-17 in a thrilling women’s singles match that lasted an hour and 27 minutes. The 22-year-old Indian fought back from 13-16 down in the second game after losing the first to eventually come up trumps. She will face fifth seed Sun Yu of China next.
Srikanth, however, eased into the quarter-finals with yet another straight-game win over Denmark’s Anders Antonsen in men’s singles. On a 12-match winning streak, Srikanth knocked out World No. 18 Antonsen 21-14, 21-18. The World No. 10 Indian will clash with top seed and World No. 1 Korean Son Wan Ho in the quarter-finals.
“It was a good game today. There were some intense rallies and I am happy for the win,” Srikanth said. Srikanth, who finished at the pre-quarterfinals in the last two editions, has a 4-4 head-to-head record against Son, whom he has beaten twice this year en route to his titles at Indonesia and Australia in June.
“It will be a tough match but I have been improving with each match and looking forward for a good game tomorrow,” Srikanth added. Saina Nehwal beat Sung Ji Hyun of Korea 21-19, 21-15 to become the first woman to reach the quarter-finals at seven successive World Championships.
Later in the day, B Sai Praneeth and Ajay Jayaram, however, suffered contrasting defeats to crash out of the tournament. Praneeth fought hard before going down 21-19, 10-21, 12-21 to World No. 4 Chou Tien Chen of Chinese Taipei, while Jayaram, who had disposed off The Netherland’s Mark Caljouw on Wednesday, was no match for two-time defending champion Chen Long of China as he lost 11-21, 10-21 in 41 minutes.
India’s top mixed doubles pair of Pranaav Jerry Chopra and N Sikki Reddy, seeded 15th, played their heart out before going down 22-20, 18-21, 18-21 to Indonesian World Number 6 duo of Debby Susanto and Praveen Jordan.
Chief national coach Pullela Gopichand said: “So far it has really been a very good performance and I am very pleased with the players. We did lose couple of close doubles matches that could have our way but overall it has been satisfying.”
Among others, five-time champion Lin Dan, his compatriot Tian Houwei, Viktor Axelsen and Hong Kong’s Wong Wing Ki Vincent also were through to the quarters in men’s singles.
In women’s singles, China’s Chen Yufei stunned top seed Akane Yamaguchi to reach the quarters. Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon, two-time champion Carolina Marin, Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara also enter the final eight. In men’s singles, Srikanth and Antonsen split the initial six points before the Indian surged ahead with a five-point burst to grab a 11-8 lead at the break.
The Denmark shuttler reduced the gap to 11-13 but Srikanth changed gears to produce another five-point burst to zoom ahead. The Indian eventually closed out the opening game without much ado.Nothing much changed in the second game as Srikanth took a 11-3 lead but Anders came back strongly to reel off six points on the trot to reduce the margin to 9-11.
However, Srikanth continued to move ahead to open up a 20-15 lead. Antonsen saved three matches points before the Indian sealed the issue in his favour.