Indian star shuttler P.V. Sindhu opened her BWF Superseries Finals campaign with a fighting win against Akane Yamaguchi of Japan here on Wednesday.
In the opening match of the Group B, the 2016 Rio Olympic Games silver medallist Sindhu lost the first game 12-21, but came back strongly to bag the next two games 21-8, 21-15.
With this win, double World Championship bronze medallist Sindhu has taken a 3-1 lead in the head-to-head against the 19-year-old two-time former junior world champion Yamaguchi.
On Thursday, world No.10 Sindhu will come across sixth-ranked Chinese Sun Yu, who produced a stunning result against reigning Olympic champion Carolina Marin with a 21-18, 24-22 triumph in 58 minutes.
In the match at the Hamdan Sports Complex, Sindhu looked a bit rusty and took time to get into rhythm. Yamaguchi ran away to a 7-3 lead quickly but Sindhu halved the difference to 5-7.
But Yamaguchi sparkled by notching six straight points that gave her a 13-5 lead. The gap was just too big and even though Sindhu fought hard to make it 11-14 at a point of time, the Japanese managed to win easily 21-12.
In the second game, Yamaguchi continued the good work but Sindhu reacted strongly after trailing 4-7. Playing an aggressive game, she showed her repertoire of strokes to bag 16 points on the trot that stood her at 20-7 before winning the game 21-8. Her wide reach and sharp smashes floored the Japanese, as well as enthralling the crowd.
A determined Sindhu continued her momentum in the third game and jumped to an 8-4 lead which became 11-7 at the mid-game break.
Afterwards, Sindhu upped her game, pressurising Yamaguchi to make costly errors. And the younger rival did feel the pressure, conceding points one after another.
Sindhu raced to a 16-10 lead by bagging four consecutive points before Yamaguchi earned two points. But Sindhu again stole the show by making three points in a row, standing at a 19-12 lead, and completing the formality at 21-15.
Meanwhile in Group A, former women’s world champion Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand went down to South Korean Sung ji Hyun 21-19, 21-12 in 35 minutes. World No.1 Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei prevailed over China’s He Bingjiao 21-16, 21-13 in 31 minutes.
Among the major surprise results of the day, South Korean Wan Ho Son shocked world No.1 Lee Chong Wei 21-10, 21-16 in 38 minutes in the Group B of the men’s singles competition of the year-closing tournament where only top eight professionals of the year compete.
In Group A, Jan ‘O’ Jorgensen of Denmark and Tian Houwei of China prevailed in their opening encounters.
Mixed Doubles defending champions Chris Adcock and Gabrielle Adcock enjoyed a bright start to their campaign, winning their opening match in just 34 minutes. The England pair was never threatened by Japan’s Kenta Kazuno and Ayane Kurihara, who appeared to be off-rhythm the entire match as they fell 21-15, 21-9.
All-England winner, Indonesians Praveen Jordan and Debby Susanto upset their senior compatriots Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir for the first time. The younger pair made it past the Olympic champions in Group A 21-11, 21-12.
There was a prominent casualty in the men’s doubles, with Denmark’s Mathias Boe and Carsten Mogensen withdrawing from the tournament before their opening match as the former was suffering from an illness, according to the Badminton World Federation (BWF)’s website.