PV Sindhu, already assured of a semi-finals spot, continued her red-hot form as she beat her Japanese opponent and World No.2 Akane Yamaguchi in straight games at the Sheikh Hamdan Indoor Stadium in the Dubai Super Series Final on Friday. Sindhu beat her opponent 21-9, 21-13 in a match that lasted 36-minutes and topped group A in the women's singles. Having won all her group matches, Sindhu will now face China's Chen Yufei, who beat Thailand's Ratchanok Intanon 21-18, 13-21, 21-18 in another group B match. The World No.3 showed great anticipation and dominance to control the proceedings of the game as Yamaguchi got buried under a heap of unforced errors.
Before the match, Sindhu had a 4-2 head-to-head record against Yamaguchi, which included a win at the Hong Kong Super Series last month.
Sindhu made a rousing start to the match, zooming to a 5-0 lead. An error at the net allowed Yamaguchi to break it before Sindhu wrested back the serve. The Japanese was affected by a series of unforced errors as she sent the shuttle flying wide and long.
Sindhu entered the opening break at 11-1 with a superb return and continued to rule the roost after the breather, reaching 15-4. Yamaguchi won points sporadically, exploiting the Indian's backhand a couple of times, but she failed to curb her unforced errors.
At 18-6, Sindhu committed a fault at the net but she followed that with a smash and gained 13 game points when her opponent went wide again.
Yamaguchi saved a couple of game points before Sindhu wrapped up the opening game with a delightful cross court drop.
The second game started on an equal footing with Sindhu and Yamaguchi splitting the initial four points after engaging in some fierce rallies. At 6-7, the duo engaged in a long rally before Yamaguchi sent it wide. A couple of unforced errors and Sindhu was leading 6-8.
The Japanese again narrowed it down to 8-9 before an accurate down-the-line smash and an error at the net by Yamaguchi helped Sindhu enter the lemon break with a three-point advantage.
The ordeal continued for Yamaguchi as she struggled to control the shuttle, allowing Sindhu to move to a 13-8 lead. A favourable video referral and a miscued shot by a stretched Sindhu gave a couple of points to the Japanese before Sindhu unleashed a roaring smash.
A low lift at the forecourt and an overhead return going to net further swelled Sindhu's lead. The Indian capitalised by a cross court drop, reaching 18-12.
A deceptive return and another miscued stroke by Yamaguchi handed Sindhu seven match points and she sealed it with a quick reflex near the net.
However, world no. 4 Kidambi Srikanth suffered his third straight loss in men's singles Group B, going down 17-21, 21-19, 14-21 to, All England Championship finalist Chinese Shi Yuqi in the last group stage match.
After two straight losses, Srikanth stretched Shi Yuqi to the decider after grabbing the second game but he was no match for his opponent in the third game. It turned out to be an anti-climax for Srikanth, who became the first Indian to win four Super Series title this season.
(With PTI inputs)