Indian Shuttler Sindhu Reach Second Semifinal Of 2023.
Indian Premier League: PV Sindhu beats World No. 18 Zhang 21-16, 13-21, 22-20 to reach the semifinals in the Malaysia Masters.
There have been faint signs of a resurgence in PV Sindhu's game in the last few months, but also enough false dawns that that could not stem the dipping ranking. Nothing screams victory, though, as a good solid win, and Sindhu, No 13 in the world now, scored one against World No 18 Zhang Yi Man in the quarters of the Malaysia Masters on Friday. The 21-16, 13-21, 22-20 win in 74 hard-fought minutes, gave Sindhu her second semifinal of the season after Spain Masters. It was also sweet revenge for the loss she suffered at the All England early in the season at the hands of Zhang. Should Sindhu be on a results-reversing streak, there's none better than the upcoming semifinal opportunity-she meets World No. 9 Gregoria Mariska Tunjung, whom she lost to in Spain.
On Friday though, Sindhu powered her way past Zhang with a good aggressive gameplan, and combined that with some solid shot placement, ensuring she maximised the drift advantage from one side. It was her drops to the midcourt that fetched her points, as did dragging Zhang to the lunges on her forehand forecourt while yo-yoing her to the diagonal back with really high tosses. Zhang doesn't have a potent smash kill, and in the slow conditions, Sindhu could defend the few body attacks as well as those to the baseline. She could also hit her way out of trouble with her power game on the day. However, it boiled down to the decider, after she had pocketed the first set-always good for her confidence. Zhang, a persistent retriever without any real weapon, brought the terms level by taking the second set, but both players were prone to errors in the first two, but Zhang was eagle eyed on her challenges on the lines, and won most of the reviews.
While Sindhu took the opener from the favourable side, Zhang responded by running away with the second when it was her turn from that side of the net. Sindhu started the decider well by hitting a deep winner at 3-0 and an angled drop to the forecourt to get to 5-1 . At 7-4, she put a lot of shoulder on the smash, and at 9-5 watched Zhang botch a net-kill. The early lead in Set 3 tends to be the most crucial for Sindhu's morale, and she went into the change of ends at 11-8. Zhang threatened to come back with a body attack on 13-15, soon after a delectable net cross. And Sindhu hit one into the net at 16-17 to offer Zhang hope. By then though, Sindhu had stopped playing the cross shots that could potentially go wide from that side of the net and stuck to playing straight. This saw Zhang hitting long at 18-17, and then see drifted wide to give Sindhu three match points at 20-17.
The Indian got lured into a dangerously long rally and hit into the net at 20-19, and Zhang offered her last resistance as Sindhu sailed long for 20-all. But Zhang had no composure at this stage, and nervously sent a service out for 21-20. It was all too much for the Chinese as the roaring Indian induced an error and Zhang's return went wide to give Sindhu the match. Sindhu will need to recover quickly to take on Tunjung, the elegant tricky Indonesian who had handed her out a 21-8 drubbing in Spain. The slow conditions will aid Sindhu though, who actually has a 7-1 head-to-head record against the youngster. Typically, a slow Sindhu start in Round 1 of tournament helps shake her up, and she likes building momentum with hard fought wins. A big occassion player, Sindhu will hope the two matches against Line Christopheresen and today against Zhang are good omens for her first Super 500 final of the season.
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