PV Sindhu, Lakshya Sen, Satwiksairaj-Chirag enter badminton finals

PV Sindhu stayed on course for an elusive gold medal while Laskhya Sen entered his maiden final at the Commonwealth Games here on Sunday. The men’s doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty also progressed to the final.

Sindhu beat Singapore’s Yeo Jia Min 21-19 21-17 in a 49-minute semifinal contest. In the following match on the show court, Sen, the world number 10, lost his way after a dominating start against 87-ranked Jia Heng Teh of Singapore. Sen, however, recovered to complete a 21-10, 18-21, 21-16 win in the men’s singles semifinals.

Satwik Sairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty ensured a third gold medal match for India on Monday when they downed Malaysia’s Chen Peng Soon and Tian Kian Men 21-6, 21-15 to reach the men’s doubles final. The world number 7 duo were too good for the Malaysians.

It could have been an all-Indian men’s singles final but an error-strewn performance from Kidambi Srikanth resulted in him squandering a first game advantage to lose to lower-ranked Tze Yong Ng of Malaysia 21-13, 19-21, 21-10 . The world number 42 Tze had shocked reigning world champion Yew Kean Loh of Singapore in the quarterfinal earlier.

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Sen relied on relentless attack to put his opponent on the backfoot and he was able to do just that in the first game. A couple of forehand smashes on the Singaporean’s right helped him take a 1-0 lead in the match.

The momentum shifted towards Jia in the second game as he slowed down the pace of the game. A drop shot followed by a backhand winner made it 8-8 before he went into the interval with a 9-11 advantage.

A slew of unforced errors from Sen saw Jia take the next five points to make it 9-16. Sen tried to hang in the game but after the Singaporean took a shoe change break at 15-18, he was able to level the match when the young Indian hit a forehand long.

Sen built an 11-7 lead in the decider though Jia made the Indian work hard for every point. The Singaporean was also given a last warning for delay in between points.

Sen got four points and converted the first one with a right drop shot that set up a backhand winner.

“I didn’t get in the rhythm in the second but I managed to pull it off in the end. The crowd support also helped a lot in the first game,” said Sen.

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Earlier, Sindhu, a former world champion, who has a silver and a bronze from the 2018 and 2014 editions, was the better player on display as she kept a firm grip on the match.

Sindhu seemed a bit restricted in her movement with the achilles of her left leg strapped. The Singaporean played some clever shots to make it 8-4 early on but she allowed the Indians to draw level, with some unforced errors.

Sindhu entered the break with a two-point lead after producing a straight drop.

The Indian relied on her technical acumen, producing the right shots at the right time to keep moving ahead. Yeo Jia Min was too erratic to put any pressure on the Indian, who moved to 19-12 with a perfect net shot.

The Singaporean used her cross court slices to trouble the Indians, making her move diagonally to reduce the gap to 16-19. But a forehand return going to net from her gave Sindhu three game points, and she converted it on the third attempt.

Yeo made a good start once again after the change of ends, but Sindhu reeled off five straight points to again draw parity.

It turned into a seesaw battle after that with the two playing some intense rallies, but Sindhu ensured she had her nose ahead at the interval as she unleashed a straight down-the-line smash.

A wide return and one going to net put Sindhu two points away from the final. Then Yeo going long gave Sindhu five match points. She squandered two before unleashing a pitch-perfect body smash to secure her place in the final.

(with inputs from PTI)

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