On the third day of BWF Dubai World Super-Series Finals, India’s PV Sindhu produced a performance of her lifetime. After her second day loss to China’s Sun Yu, Sindhu’s semifinal hopes looked bleak as she had been drawn to meet World and Olympic Champion Carolina Marin of Spain on December 16. No one gave Sindhu many chances against the marauding Marin. But Sindhu came up with a brilliant show of aggression against the Rio gold medal winner and beat the Spaniard in just two games lasting 47 minutes. It was a sweet revenge for Sindhu, who had lost to Marin at Rio, four months ago. Sindhu is the lone Indian in the tournament across five categories of the year-end event that features the best of the bests in world badminton. Barely a month ago, Sindhu wasn’t even sure of her participation in the World Super-Series Finals. However, victory in the final of 2016 Thaihot China Open followed by her making it to the final of Hong Kong Open ensured that she figured amongst the top eight and got herself included in the women’s singles at Dubai.
Playing her first match of the tournament on Wednesday, Sindhu faced the talented Japanese Akane Yamaguchi. Sindhu found herself on the defensive against Yamaguchi and began by tamely losing the first game 12-21. But the Indian found her footing in the second game and came up with a far superior display that saw Yamaguchi collecting only 8 points. Sindhu carried the momentum into the third game and although Yamaguchi showed signs of comeback, Sindhu showed her dominance in the 12-21, 21-8, 21-15 victory in 63 minutes.
On Thursday, Sindhu played against China’s Sun Yu, whom she had beaten in the Thaihot China Open nearly a month ago. This time, however, the Chinese took her revenge by literally outplaying the Indian in two games. Sindhu lacked the sharpness she had shown against Yamaguchi on the opening day and that allowed Sun Yu to dictate terms. The Chinese produced drop shots of high quality and mixed them with astutely disguised half smashes. Sindhu trailed in the first game from the very start and the closest she came to Sun Yu was 8-10 before the break. Sindhu showed some fight after she trailed 8-20 but the gap was too much for the Indian to bridge as the Chinese closed the first game at 21-15. In the second game, Sindhu showed some improvement but Sun Yu was ready to meet the Indian’s challenge and won the match 21-15, 21-17.
When Sindhu came to face Marin on Friday, her position had become very precarious. The loss against Sun Yu meant it was a must-win situation for Sindhu against the fancied Marin. The same was also true about Marin, who had lost to Yamaguchi on Thursday. The result of the match was to decide one of the Group-B semifinalists. However, without bothering about the odds stacked against her, Sindhu transformed herself amazingly against the celebrated Spaniard. The two players looked equally matched early in the first game but Marin jumped to an early 7-3 lead. Then in a display of controlled aggression, Sindhu not only wiped off the deficit but led 8-7. At the break, Sindhu led 11-10. After the break, Marin equalized and led 12-11 but Sindhu was ready by now for a more aggressive game. She snatched the lead back and never trailed after 13-12. After winning the first game 21-17, Sindhu continued her dominance in the second and after 3-3 early in the game, she established her lead over Marin for good. Try as she might, Marin couldn’t match the attacking Indian. In the end, Sindhu finished a 21-17, 21-13 winner. Carolina Marin’s defeat by Sindhu also sent the Spaniard out of the semifinal reckonings. A brilliant all-round performance against Marin on Friday at Dubai has taken Sindhu into the semifinals of the BWF World Super Series Finals at Dubai. Now she is just two wins away from a coveted title. On Saturday, Sindhu plays against Korea’s Sung Ji Hyun for a place in the final.