IMAGE: PV Sindhu will face top seeded Japanese Akane Yamaguchi in the semi-finals. Photograph: BWF/Twitter
Double Olympic medallist P V Sindhu eked out a thrilling win over China’s He Bing Jiao to enter the singles semi-finals of the Badminton Asia Championships in Manila on Friday.
With this win, Sindhu assured herself of a medal in the continental individual championships, which is making a return after a gap of two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Later in the day, the fifth seeded Malaysian pair of Aaron Chia and Soh Wooi Yik beat India’s Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty, 12-21, 21-14, 21-16.
The fourth-seeded Sindhu, who had claimed a bronze in the 2014 Gimcheon edition, got the better of the fifth seeded Chinese 21-9, 13-21, 21-19 in a quarter-final match that lasted an hour and 16 minutes.
The 26-year-old from Hyderabad, who won two super 300 titles at Syed Modi International and Swiss Open, will face top seeded Japanese Akane Yamaguchi in the semis.
World No 7 Sindhu came into the match with a 7-9 head-to-head record against Bing Jiao, whom she had beaten twice in the last two meetings.
It was at the Tokyo Games that Sindhu had last played Bing Jiao on way to her bronze at the Olympics and the Indian ace kept her nerves in the closing stages to once again emerge victories in a pulsating contest.
The former World champion made her intent clear from the start as she galloped to an 11-2 lead in no time and then kept things under her firm grip to take a 1-0 lead in the match.
Bing Jiao came back strongly after the change of sides as errors flew from Sindhu’s racquet. The Chinese soon moved to a 6-4 lead before managing a slender 11-10 advantage. The world number 9 looked for angles in her returns, while Sindhu was guilty of making too many errors.
After the break, the Chinese reeled off five points on the trot to grab a 19-12 lead to eventually roar back into the contest.
In the decider, it was 2-2 early on as Sindhu looked to step up the pace. Soon she unleashed her cross-court smashes to gather points, moving to a massive 11-5 lead going into the final change of ends.
Bing Jiao, however, scripted a recovery after the interval to narrow down the deficit to 15-16 as Sindhu let the momentum slip despite being 15-9 up at one stage.
It was 18-16 next with Sindhu’s slice going to the net. The Indian then unleashed a body smash before grabbing four match points with Bing Jiao erring on the backcourt.
The Chinese saved three match points before Sindhu converted the fourth to seal the contest in her favour.