PV Sindhu saves seven game points, enters first final since CWG 2022
The former world champion grits out a hard-fought straight games win against Singapore’s Yeo Jia Min
Having never won a game, let alone a match, against PV Sindhu in her three previous meetings, Singapore’s Yeo Jia Min appeared pretty confident and relaxed while leading 20-15 in the first game.
The five game points became seven, making it the best opportunity for the 24-year-old to beat Sindhu but the second seeded Indian fought back in remarkable fashion to save all and snatch the first game 24-22. Riding the momentum, Sindhu also won the second game 22-20 to enter the women’s singles summit clash of the $210,000 Spain Masters in Madrid – her first final of the year.
Even though the second seeded Indian is far from her best, reaching the final day of competition at the Super 300 tournament will boost her confidence especially after suffering the worst start to a season, exiting her first three tournaments of the year — Malaysia Open, India Open and All England Open — in the first round. She also went down in Round 2 of Swiss Open last week where she was the defending champion.
The former world champion is slowly beginning to find her groove as she made her first final since winning the Commonwealth Games gold in August last year. This is also her first final on the BWF World Tour after winning the Singapore Open in July 2022.
The double Olympic medallist suffered a stress fracture on her left foot after winning gold in Birmingham which put her out of action for five months before making a comeback this January. A five-time World Championship medallist, Sindhu also split with long time coach Park Tae-sang earlier this year and has now dropped out of the top 10 in world rankings for the first time since November 2016.
Even Sunday wasn’t looking great on court for Sindhu, who trailed her world No 33 opponent 15-20 in the opening game of the semi-final. The last Indian alive in the tournament, Sindhu made errors at the net, her drops didn’t work and her smash was also getting retrieved regularly at the start until when she found spring in her step to turn the contest around.
The world No 11 Indian used her backhand well to push the shuttle to the back of the court, allowing herself breathing time and reaching the net more often, having nothing to lose. Yeo, who looked sharper at the beginning, wasted many chances to beat Sindhu for the first time.
Sindhu took the momentum into the second game and raced away to lead 11-6 at the mid-game break. But this time Yeo, who herself has had a very poor year with four first-round exits, fought back to level the contest at 14-all and remained at Sindhu’s heels till the end.
Yeo, who won bronze at the 2022 Commonwealth Games, even saved two match points, one being a bit controversial as the point was ruled in her favour despite the shuttle landing out. Sindhu had run out of reviews by then. She remained calm and used her skills well to enter the final by converting her third match point, letting out a shriek to indicate her victory.
In the final, the second-seeded Indian will face Indonesian fifth seed Gregoria Mariska Tunjung, who beat top seed, local favourite, and three-time world champion Carolina Marin 10-21, 21-15, 21-10.
- Pv Sindhu