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Shuttler Srikanth in Australia Open semis; Sindhu, Saina crash out

IANS logoIANS 23-06-2017

Continuing his fine run, recently-crowned Indonesia Open champion Srikanth defeated fellow Indian shuttler B. Sai Praneeth in the men's singles quarter-finals.

Srikanth, who was in his third quarter-finals in the last five tournaments that he has participated in, made it to the semi-finals with a 25-23, 21-17 win in a match that lasted for 43 minutes.

Later in the day, P.V. Sindhu lost her quarter-finals match to World No.1 Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei.

Sindhu won the first game before Tai staged a strong comeback to register a 10-21, 22-20, 21-16 verdict in the women's singles clash which lasted for about an hour.

Saina Nehwal went down to sixth-seeded Sun Yu of China after another tough three-game battle.

The Chinese shuttler beat Saina 21-17, 10-21, 21-17 in a match that lasted for an hour and 19 minutes.

Praneeth, who defeated Srikanth in the Singapore Open final in April, started Friday's first game on a strong note, opening up a healthy lead of 9-6.

But Srikanth fought back to make it 10-10 and went into the break with a slight advantage of 11-10.

The two were neck-and-neck from there but at 13-13, before Praneeth took three straight points to make it 16-13 but Srikanth turned his A game right then to win five straight points to make it 18-16.

Srikanth then raced to 20-17 but Praneeth clawed back to win four points on the trot to make it 21-20. From there, an intense battle started as both the Indians saved two game points each, which saw Srikanth pocketing the game 25-23.

In the second game, Srikanth maintained a strong lead making it 9-6 before Praneeth managed three points in a row to equalise at 9-9. However, he could not hold the higher-ranked player as Srikanth extended his lead to 11-9 at the break.

Srikanth then went on to extend his lead to 16-12 before Praneeth came from behind and made it 16-16. Towards the end, Srikanth used all his experience to comfortably win the tie 21-17.

Srikanth will play the winner of the second quarter-final match between Shi Yuqi of China and Denmark's Hans-Kristian Vittinghus.

In the women's singles, Sindhu gave a good account of herself agaiunst the World No.1 from Chinese Taipei. The top seeded Tai improved her head to head record against the World No.4 Sindhu to 7-3.

In the opening game, Tai had no response to Sindhu's smashes as the Rio Olympics silver medallist dominated the proceedings to pocket it easily.

Tai, however, made a strong comeback in the second game, taking a 4-1 lead, before Sindhu clawed her way back to 8-8.

It was a neck and neck battle at that time, and Sindhu then took a 13-10 lead, before Tai won four points on the trot to take a 14-13 lead which she extended further to 18-14.

Sindhu made a critical error at that stage where she allowed Tai to save the match point, and take the game into the decider with a 22-20 win.

The final game was again a close contest with both players trying to outwit each other. While Sindhu raced to a 14-10 lead, Tai kept her nerves to stage a comeback and make it 15-15.

Towards the end, the Chinese Taipei shuttler dominated proceeding before pocketing the third game 21-16.

Later, Sindhu's compatriot Saina's also lost crashed out of the quarter-finals following a loss to Sun Yu of China.

Sun Yu dominated the opening game, taking a 8-4 lead before extending it further to 11-9 at the break. Saina, however, made a strong comeback after the break and went ahead 15-13 before Sun Yu gained eight straight points to pocket the game.

In the second game, Saina surged ahead taking six straight points to lead 7-3 and went to the break at 11-4. Coming back, the Hyderabadi never allowed the Chinese to settle and extended her lead to 18-10 and easily winning it 21-10.

The decider witnessed fierce battle between the two shuttlers splitting at 4-4 and then going neck and neck till 9-9 before Saina took the lead at 11-9.

Post the break, Sun Yu took three points in a row to make it 12-12 and then went ahead with six straight points to make it 19-15. She kept her nerves and didn't allow the Indian free her arms to run away with the match 21-17.

Sun Yu will now take on Nozomi Okuhara, who beat fellow Japanese Sayaka Takahashi in another quarter-final tie.

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