PV Sindhu might not have been impressive after her silver medal win in Rio, but she showed her class in the ongoing China Open, defeating He Bingjiao in straight games to reach the semifinals of the competition on Friday. But it was not all too rosy for India as male shuttler Ajay Jayaram lost to Chen Long.
Sindhu started brightly, with two back-to-back points to kick proceedings, but Bingjiao settled, and started to return well. The Chinese came from behind, and it became a tight encounter at 7-7. Both the players were using their powerful baseline game to pick up points and were level at 12-12 once again.
Later, with Sindhu grabbing a three-point lead at 17-14, the Indian was closer to clinching the first game. Bingjiao clawed back into the game to level it at 17-17, making matters really interesting. The Chinese was making Sindhu run all round the court to score important points. It led to an interesting finish in the first game, where Sindhu held her nerve to clinch it 22-20.
Sindhu carried that form into the second game, where she won five points on a trot to open up a three-point lead after losing the first two points. She looked determined, played some brilliant offensive shots, which was made possible by her firm defence to increase the lead to 7-4.
There was an air of confidence in Sindhu's play as she looked comfortable both from the baseline as well as the the net. With some powerful plays and deft touches, she ran into 14-6 lead. From there on, there was no stopping in-the-groove Sindhu, who clinched it 21-10.
Earlier, Jayaram lost to Long 15-21, 14-21. One had expected Long-Jayaram clash to be a one-sided affair, but Jayaram did give him a close fight, especially in the first game, where the Indian shuttler started on a bright note, fighting tooth and nail for a single point. It was 4-4 at one stage of the game.
As the first game progressed, Long was getting into his groove, and played some solid shots both in the offence and defence to clinch some important points. With Long putting pressure on Jayaram, the Indian shuttler was making errors at the net as the Chinese player was striking the shuttle clean.
Despite a positive approach from Jayaram, he lost the game 15-21. If the Indian star wanted to make a match out of it, Jayaram had to clinch the second game to take the quarterfinals to the decider.
The second game, with Jayaram desperate to lift his performance to another level, saw the Indian shuttler pulling off some powerful smashes. But Long stood up to whatever was thrown at him by Jayaram, who could not break his opponent's firm defence.
With a five point lead to Long, the match was heading towards the second seed. Despite giving it his all in the closing stages of the match, Long proved to be too good as the Rio 2016 gold medallist cruised into the final four of the China Open with 21-14 win.