She might be China Open champion and India’s top ranked shuttler for the first time in her life, but PV Sindhu cannot escape the drama that accompanies her wild outings on court. At the quarters of the Hong Kong Super Series, the Singaporean Xiaoyu Liang got stuck into her.
She had pocketed the first one 21-17, but tangled herself into a nervous mesh after being three points away from a straight sets victory at 18-14, when she allowed the young Singaporean to make the most of her skittish finishing.
Tough to tell whether it was the whimmy shuttle or drift or the prospect of running into Saina Nehwal in semis or pure exhaustion after two weekends of high intensity games that got to her at this point.
“I was leading but lost the second game. She played well. I was very nervous and gave a huge lead. I was 7-15 down in the third, my shots were going out. The ones I had to get I couldn’t,” she told the BWF breathlessly.
The Singaporean is capable of causing hysteria while finishing out a game, and being taken to the third set put the 21-year-old World No. 10 further on tenterhooks. “I was not confident in playing strokes, even when I played safe the shots were going out, I didn’t know what to play,” she said.
Trailing 7-14, she got her act together, just as quickly as she’d lost nerve a set earlier, and ratted off 7 points to end the feverish tension. “I got confident after that. Liang is good, she’s improved a lot. I wasn’t upto the mark,” she said later.
She plays her consecutive Super Series semi – this time against Cheung Ngan Yi, and will look to overpower Saina Nehwal’s conqueror. The Hong Kong girl – ranked No. 26 – has never beaten Sindhu in two prior meetings (last was in 2014 April) but has the game that heaves opponents into long matches with her acrobatic defense and deception from the back.
The build-up to the quarters was in anticipation of a square-off with Nehwal, but Sindhu would know that there’s a title here to be won with Carolina Marin still in contention.
A first for Verma
In a surprising result, young Sameer Verma entered his maiden Super Series Last 4, beating Malaysian Chong Wei Feng 21-17, 23-21, parrying away two game points to snatch a victory.
He runs into China Open winner – the temperamental Jan O Jorgensen. The Dane is a freshly minted China Open champ and will start as favourite, though he’s often found it tough to get past young Indians who routinely trip him with their unorthodox games – including K Srikanth at the Olympics. Verma’s academy-mates P Kashyap, HS Prannoy and Srikanth have all beaten Jan O in their last match-ups with the mercurial Dane, and he’ll have a dossier ready to employ what is a game high on shock value.
Verma, still only 23, and ranked No 43 has a slingy net game – tricky because he has a different action from others and can go for broke against the World No 3 Jorgensen. “It’s a weird action but effective,” says compatriot Parupalli Kashyap. “It’s different so it takes time to understand him,” he adds.