In what turned out to be a 90-minute thriller, India’s PV Sindhu came from a game down to defeat Vietnam’s Thuy Linh Nguyen at the Arctic Open Super 500 event in Vantaa, Finland on Friday to reach the semifinals.
Sindhu, who was a game and 14-18 down, prevailed 20-22, 22-20, 21-18 against the world No 26 who had been on a giant-killing run this week.
The 8th seed will next take on China’s Wang Zhi Yi, the world No 11. Sindhu has a 2-0 Head-to-Head record against her.
In the opening game, even though Sindhu entered the mid-game interval with a 11-4 lead, the signs were already there that this would be a tough test as Nguyen pushed the Indian in long rallies. Sindhu’s smash was working well in the early stages and she was dictating the tempo but soon, Nguyen started counterpunching superbly. The Vietnamese fought back 9-16 down to take the lead 22-20.
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The second game too saw Sindhu enter the interval with all the momentum on her side, winning six straight points just as she had done in the opener. But Nguyen once again fought back and was three points away from a famous win at 18-14. That’s when signs of tiredness started to show as she tried to calm herself down.
Sindhu produced a fantastic run of points, winning five on the trot and eventually letting out a big roar as she took the match to the decider.
Nguyen, who had already played two marathon matches in her previous rounds against Beiwen Zhang and Zhang Yi Man, continued to fight hard in the decider. Sindhu too needed treatment early on for her taped-up right hand where she grips the racket.
The former world champion, with her crosscourt smashes firing again, took a 11-8 lead into the final change of ends. Despite another brief fightback after the interval from her opponent, Sindhu pushed ahead from 13-13. At 20-15, it seemed Sindhu had this in the bag but Nguyen saved three match points to make it a nervy ending. But the Indian held on to let out another big roar as she completed the comeback.
The Indian, ranked 13th in the world now, reached her fourth semifinal on the BWF World Tour this year. She had earlier reached the final four at Spain Masters (finalist), Malaysia Masters and Canada Open.
The other semifinal in the women’s singles draw is between Pornpawee Chochuwong and Han Yue, with the former defeating title favourite Tai Tzu Ying in straight games.
Sindhu is the last Indian standing in the tournament after round of 16 defeats for Kiran George, Srikanth Kidambi, Aakarshi Kashyap and Ashwini Ponnappa / Tanisha Crasto on Thursday.