Indian women’s badminton team scripted history today as they reached the semifinals of the Uber Cup tournament for the first time with a dominating 3-0 victory over Indonesia in the quarterfinals at the Siri Fort Sports complex in New Delhi.
Saina led India’s charge with a 21-17 21-10 win over Lindaweni Fanetri in a 45-minute match before P V Sindhu played out of her skin to eke out a hard-fought 21-16 10-21 25-23 victory over Bellaetrix Manuputty.
Commonwealth Games gold medallist pair of Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa then sealed the tie in India’s favour with a 21-18 21-18 win over Polii Greysia and Nitya Krishinda Maheswari in the first doubles.
India will take on Japan in the semifinals of the Uber Cup on Friday.
It was the second singles which turned out to be an edge-of-the-seat thriller as Sindhu and Manupatty fought a battle of attrition amid loud cheers of the fans, who chanted ‘Sindhu, Sindhu’ for the Indian.
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In the first game, Sindhu opened up a two-point lead early on and stretched it to 12-8 and then 17-12 and even though the Indonesian tried to recover, the Indian pocketed the first game comfortably in the end.
However, Manupatty came back strongly in the next as she led 11-7 at the break when Sindhu hit the nets. The Indonesian continued her run after the interval and surged to 18-9 in a jiffy to take the second game and roar back into the contest.
The decider was a roller-coaster ride as both rivals did not want to concede an inch. Sindhu led 11-10 at the break but soon Manupatty clawed her way back at 15-15 when the Indian hit wide. They moved neck and neck from 15-15 till the end.
There was little to choose between the two as their fierce battle left them drained. In the end, Manupatty was twice in a position to get it across the Indian but she failed on both occasions. Sindhu, after failing twice, converted the third match point when Manupatty hit long to burst into celebration.
Playing the first singles, Saina struggled a bit initially to trail 5-11 at the interval. But, the Indian changed her tactics after the break as she kept tossing the shuttle at the back court and used angled drops and clever lifts to catch Lindaweni at the forecourt.
Saina snatched the lead from Lindaweni with a brilliant dribble at the net to move to 17-16. Lindaweni again lost a couple of points at the forecourt and eventually hit wide to give the first game to the Indian.
In the second game, Saina continued in the same vein and led 11-4 at the breather when Lindaweni hit out after a rally which left a smile on the Indian’s face. Saina remained calm, despite some miscued shots and reached the match point after winning a line review and then Lindaweni found the net to hand the match to the Indian.
Second seed Japan and former champions Korea also sailed into the last four of the Uber Cup with relative ease. While Japan defeated Denmark 3-0, Korea bounced back after conceding the first singles to world champion Ratchanok Intanon to win 3-1 against Thailand.
In the Thomas Cup men’s team championships, defending champions China spanked Thailand 3-0 to set up a semifinal clash against Japan, who survived a spirited performance from French skipper Brice Leverdez to win 3-1. China are chasing a record sixth consecutive title.