Sindhu enters quarterfinals, Srikanth loses in French Open

PV Sindhu
PV Sindhu

Paris | India's PV Sindhu produced another impressive show as she rallied to a three-game win over USA's Beiwen Zhang to advance to the women's singles quarterfinals but it was curtains for Kidambi Srikanth at the French Open Super 750 badminton tournament here on Thursday.

Playing her first BWF tour event since returning from a knee injury, Sindhu, a two-time Olympic medallist, battled her way from an opening-game reversal to outgun World No. 10 Zhang 13-21 21-10 21-14 to enter her first quarterfinal of the season.

The world No. 11 will face either Olympic champion and second seed Chen Yu Fei of China or Denmark's Line Christophersen, making the contest an acid test for the Indian, who is eyeing a third medal at the Paris Games.

Srikanth, who showed his mastery over Chinese Taipei's Chou Tien Chen on Wednesday, once again hit a roadblock, this time against Guang Zu to suffer yet another round-of-16 loss, something which will bother him as he held a flawless 5-0 record against the Chinese ahead of the match.

The former world No. 1 lost 21-19 12-21 20-22 to the world No. 17 Chinese after battling for 78 minutes.

The women's doubles pair of Treesa Jolly and Gayatri Gopichand also progressed to the quarterfinals, shocking seventh seeded Japanese duo of Yuki Fukushima and Sayaka Hirota 21-18 21-13.

The Indian pair will next take on top seeds Qing Chen Chen and Yi Fan Jia of China in the next round.

In women's singles, Sindhu started the proceedings with a cross-court winner but Zhang put up a defensive wall, engaging the Indian in long rallies dominated by a series of high tosses and clears.

Sindhu struggled with the conditions as, going for the backline, the Indian committed too many unforced errors to allow Zhang lead 11-7 and 14-9.

Zhang's lifts repeatedly found the lines, while Sindhu missed time and again. Soon the American re-established a five-point lead at 16-11 before grabbing eight game points. The Chinese converted when Sindhu sprayed into net again.

Zhang had good control over her shots as she led 3-0 with a couple of lovely drops in the second game. Sindhu managed to level things at 4-4 before pouncing on a weak return near the net to go 6-4 up.

Sindhu soon started dictating terms in the rallies to move to 9-5 with her steep returns troubling Zhang. The Indian held an 11-7 lead at the break.

It was a one-way traffic as Sindhu opened an eight-point gap with an over-the-head smash which was followed by a cross hit. The Indian moved to 11 game points with another precise return at the back and roared back into the contest when Zhang tossed one out.

Two smashes helped Zhang take a 4-2 lead in the decider but Sindhu made it 5-5 after winning a 34-shot rally. The Indian looked to play more downward shots from the windy side of the court even as Zhang suffered from inconsistency.

The Chinese's strokes were choppy and net play erratic as Sindhu moved to 8-5 before grabbing an 11-7 advantage when Zhang miscued a shot.

With Zhang struggling with the length, Sindhu held on to the four-point lead at 17-13 with another over-the-head smash. Another drop shot gave Sindhu six match points and she sealed it when Zhang made another net error.

Srikanth vs Guang Zu

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Srikanth got off the block with a 3-0 lead but he went long thrice to allow Guang Zu level the scores at 5-5. The Indian gave a few points at the net but ensured an 11-9 lead at the break.

Srikanth stood firm in the flat exchanges and played some delectable forehand returns to take a 17-14 lead but his errors pegged him back as Guang Zu levelled the scores.

A backhand kill helped the Indian move to 19-18 but the Chinese again levelled the scores at 19-19. Srikanth, however, sent a smash next before unleashing another cross court smash to take the opening game.

After the change of sides, Srikanth fell 1-3 behind and though he clawed back at 4-4, his errors piled up as Guang Zu led 11-7, which he extended to 17-10 on resumption and eventually sealed the second game to take the match to the decider.

In the third game, the duo were inseparable for the first 12 points before the Chinese moved to 10-7. Srikanth reeled off four straight points with some precise returns at the back and had a 17-13 and 18-15 lead at one stage.

But Guang Zu slowly restored parity with the Indian finding the net twice. Another shot going into the net gave a match point to Guang Zu. Srikanth saved one with a cross-court jump smash before two unforced errors put paid to his hopes.

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