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Sindhu advances into semi-finals of World Championships

27 August 2017

Okuhara came back from a set down to beat Nehwal 12-21, 21-17, 21-10 to shut out the fans' hope of seeing an all Indian championship final.

Sindhu had also defeated Okuhara in the semifinal of the Rio Olympic Games previous year.

Sindhu has been in storming form ever since the Rio Olympics.

So much so that she failed to keep the momentum she had in the first game failed to advance to her second final of World Badminton Championships.

Though India have been winning a medal at World Championships since 2011, this will be the first time they will have two with Saina and Sindhu in semis.

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Prior to this match, Sun led the pair's head-to-head 4-3, having defeated Sindhu in straight games in their last meeting in Dubai last December. "That is what she conveyed to me", Kumar told this paper after painfully watching his ward go down fighting from the court sidelines. Though I have beaten her (Okuhara) in the Olympics, it is a new match and there will be a new strategy. But lost by two points in the row, Sindhu lost. She won the opening game when Chen hit long.

Standing 22 inches taller than Okuhara at 178 cm, Sindhu made full use of her height by pushing Okuhara deep into the court with her steep smashes and then making good use of her drop shots to leave Okuhara stranded in the middle of the court.

Nozomi Okuhara defeated the Indian player 19-21, 22-20, 20-22 in the final match.

The 27-year-old Saina's second round defeat to unheralded Ukrainian Marija Ulitina was the lowest point for India in Rio, having entered the Games as the previous edition's bronze medallist and a victor of multiple worldwide tournaments. However, by the end of the first game, exhaustion was writ large on her face. In no time, she was leading 8-2 and her aggression was visible as the London Olympic bronze medallist celebrated each and every point with a whoop.

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Sindhu now has a world rank of 4 but she has been ranked as high as world No 2. "I do not want to stop at the final, I want to win gold", said the Japanese. Last time I played her I lost to her in Dubai.

For the more partisan, then, it was all about Kirsty, but she looked to revel in the experience, maintaining the initiative throughout against Ruparna Das, a 20-year-old Indian who had only had to play two points of her first round match before her Finnish opponent had retired injured.

Not ready to give up, Okuhara fell back on her extraordinary net game to save three game points.

Cut to August 2017, Saina will be the recipient of a World Championships bronze. Saina periodically managed to win a point here and there but she could not stop the Japanese who led 16-7 at one stage.

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Sindhu advances into semi-finals of World Championships