Youngster Lakshya Sen registered another comfortable win but double Olympic medalists PV Sindhu and Kidambi Srikanth had to work hard to enter the badminton semi-finals of the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham on Saturday.
World number 10 Sen defeated Mauritian Julian Georges Paul 21-12, 21-11.
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Former world champion Sindhu, who won a bronze and a silver in the previous two editions, defeated 60th-ranked Goh 19-21, 21-14, 21-18 to reach her third straight semifinal. CWG. Even World Championship silver medalist Srikanth could not manage a 21-19, 21-17 win over the world number 54 left-hander Panty.
The 20-year-old Sen will next face Jia Heng Teh, while Srikanth will seek exact revenge against Malaysia’s Ng Tse Yong, who defeated him in the mixed team final. Sindhu, on the other hand, will have to get past world number 18 Jia Min Yeo of Singapore to get closer to her maiden gold medal. The Indian had beaten her in the 2019 French Open.
In women’s singles, youngster Akarshi Kashyap made her CWG debut losing 10-21, 7-21 to Scotland’s Christy Gilmour, silver and bronze medalists in the 2014 and 2018 editions respectively. Sindhu looked a little shaky against Goh, whom she defeated in two tight games in the mixed team championship final.
Goh’s attacking prowess was once again on display as she made the Indians work hard in the opening game. The 27-year-old from Hyderabad led by two points at the interval, but Goh took a 1-0 lead in the match with a fine display in the second half of the first game.
The much-experienced Sindhu, however, soon reclaimed her role as the pair produced some brilliant rallies to give the Indian team a three-point advantage at the break. World No. 7 Sindhu extended her lead to 19-14 and was soon back in the contest.
The decisive pair saw some impressive rallies as they went neck-to-neck at 6-6. Sindhu managed to take an 8-6 lead, but Goh soon grabbed three points. The Indian made a quick comeback from Goh to take a slim lead of one point at the interval.
While Goh played some exceptional shots including body smashes, Sindhu focused on driving her opponent across the court and used her strokes to achieve that. Sindhu tried to get into good position to open up more options for her strokeplay. Soon she was leading 15-11 and Goh looked dejected, flat on the floor.
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The Indian kept a firm grip on the rallies as Goh looked tired with her comeback. In the end, Sindhu saved three match points and converted on her second try, adding to the jubilation of the Indian fans at the NEC Hall here. Buoyed by the home crowd and coached by former CWG medalist Rajeev Ossef, Penty matched Srikanth in all departments and took a four-point lead at the interval after narrowly losing the opener in the second game.
Srikanth, especially in the first half of the match, was at fault, but later rode his explosive power in his smashes to take a 17-13 lead in the second. He peppered his opponent with a series of offensive shots including body smashes. Two attacking returns on Srikanth’s forehand helped Penti stay alive and the Indian saved three match points before returning another follow-up to his opponent’s body to seal the contest.
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