Sindhu, Prannoy advance to semifinals of Malaysia Masters

PV Sindhu and HS Prannoy advanced to the women’s and men’s singles semifinals of the Malaysia Masters. AP

Star Indian shuttlers PV Sindhu and HS Prannoy advanced to the women’s and men’s singles semifinals of the Malaysia Masters Super 500 tournament with hard-fought wins over their respective opponents here on Friday.

While double Olympic medallist Sindhu, seeded sixth in the tournament, beat lower ranked Yi Man Zhang of China 21-16, 13-21, 22-20, Prannoy earned a 25-23, 18-21, 21-13 win over Kenta Nishimoto of Japan in the quarterfinals.

Sindhu faces seventh seed and world number nine Gregoria Mariska Tunjung of Indonesia in the semifinals on Saturday. Tunjung upset second seed Yi Zhi Wang of China in the quarterfinals 21-18, 22-20.

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Tunjung has been in fine form recently and Sindhu had lost to her in the Madrid Spain Masters final in straight games in April. The Indian will, however, go into the semifinals with a 7-1 head-to-head advantage over Tunjung.

World number nine Prannoy faces qualifier Christian Adinata, ranked 57, of Indonesia, who beat Kidambi Srikanth 16-21, 21-16, 21-11 in another quarterfinals, in the semifinals of Saturday.

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Prannoy has never played against the 21-year-old Adinata, who began playing at the senior level just last year.
For world number 13 Sindhu, it was a revenge of sort for her round-of-32 loss to Zhang, ranked 18th, in the All England Open earlier this year. She had also beaten her Chinese opponent in the same tournament last year.
The first game was an intriguing one.

Sindhu found herself on the back foot as she trailed 0-5, but she made a fine recovery and made the score 10-all. After that, Sindhu led all through and clinched the first game 21-16.

In the second game, Zhang learnt her lessons and did not allow Sindhu to come back unlike in the first. From 2-all, it was Zhang who led all through till the end to make the tie 1-1.

The decider was neck-and-neck all through and it could have gone either way. From 12-all onwards, the shuttlers didn’t give each other more than a two-point lead, and it went like that till 17-all.

But from there, Sindhu zoomed to take a 20-17 lead but Zhang won the next three points to level the score 20-20. But ultimately, Sindhu held onto her nerve to grab the next two points to win the third game and the match.

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Prannoy also found himself in a neck-and-neck tussle with Nishimoto in the first game as the duo were level on 12-all, 17-all and 20-all. They were on level terms in the next three deuce points before Prannoy won 25-23.
The second game went just like first initially but Nishimoto zoomed ahead after 9-all to take 17-11 lead.

Prannoy fought back to reduce the gap but it was not enough as his Japanese opponent made the tie 1-1.
The decider, however, turned out to be a one-sided affair in favour of Prannoy as he just outplayed his opponent after 4-all to win it easily and pocket the match.

In another men’s singles quarterfinal, Srikanth lost 21-16, 16-21, 11-21 to Adinata in 57 minutes to bow out of the tournament.

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