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24 Aug, 2019
It was a historic day for India at Basel, with PV Sindhu becoming a three-time World Championship Finalists in Women’s Singles, as she took apart Chen Yufei of China in straight games 21-7 21-14, in an emphatic display of sublime skill and temperament. B Sai Praneeth, in the men’s singles however had to settle for the Bronze Medal, after being edged out by Kento Momota in the first of the men’s singles semi-finals.
On the semi-final’s day, here at St. Jacbshalle in Basel, PV Sindhu was out on court first up against Chinese opponent Chen Yufei on what promised to be a much-anticipated duel. Sindhu was out of the blocks in an absolute hurry and raced to a 4-1 advantage in the opening exchanges. Chen made it 4-2 and that was the closest she got in an extraordinary first game.
Sindhu just hitting winner after winner as she was all over Chen like a rash, and Chen almost looked out of place in the imposing arena. Leading 11-3 at the mid-game interval, Sindhu looked good to seal the opening game any moment. The fact that Chen never got to put two consecutive points together for the entire game, spoke volumes of Sindhu’s dominance. In just a quarter of an hour, the first game in the bag, Sindhu was looking good for her third consecutive finals appearance.
In the second game, Chen made a relatively better start and managed to stay on the coattails of Sindhu until 6-5, but once the Sindhu started to pull away, she was left with no real answers. While, Chen did double her tally from the opening to 14, this was a day Sindhu was just an unstoppable force. Less than 40 minutes, and PV Sindhu was in the third finals of the World Championships.
While, she will be desperate to turn the finalist tag into the winners one tomorrow, the staggering statistic is that she is the only player to have featured in all 4 of the premier finals of the previous four years. 2016 Olympic finalist, 2017, 2018, 2019 World Championships finalist. That’s one hell of a lot of consistency and big tournament temperament by Sindhu.
B Sai Praneeth, was the other Indian to feature in the semi-finals action. And up against Kento Momota of Japan, he really had the odds against him. But it is for nothing that they call him the giant-killer, and he had indeed earned his place in the last four with some superlative performances on the way. Accounting for Anthony Ginting & Jonathan Christie, Sai hadn’t yet lost a game all week and surely fancied his chances.
In the opening game Sai Praneeth made a healthy start and at 6-6, it was all even. Even at the mid-game interval, Momota barely had a point’s advantage but it was after the interval that he actually started pushing the accelerator. He reeled off four straight points after the interval and then another four from 16-12, to give himself a clutch of game points for the early advantage.
Having lost his first game of the tournament, Sai needed a positive start to the second game to force a decider, but Momota was in no mood to oblige. He raced to a 9-2 lead and despite Sai’s best efforts he couldn’t stop the world #1.
However, Sai can definitely be proud of his exploits. If someone gave him a SF finish at the start of the tournament, he’d surely have taken it. He played exceptionally well all week and came up against the best player in the world, in top form on the big day! All in all, a first medal in 36 years is a solid achievement!