Saina, Sindhu put India 2-0 ahead against Japan in Uber semis

New Delhi: Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu came up with contrasting victories in the first two singles to put the Indian women`s team 2-0 ahead of Japan in their maiden semifinal of Uber Cup Badminton tournament here on Friday.

Olympic bronze medallist Saina gave India a positive start when she produced a dominating performance to get across world number 12 Minatsu Mitani in 41 minute match.

World championship bronze winner, Sindhu then displayed her brilliance with yet another edge-of-the seat victory over world No 13 Sayaka Takahashi 19-21 21-18 26-24 in an energy-sapping one hour and 12 minutes match at the Siri Fort stadium.

Saina dominated the proceedings right from the start and lead 11-6 at the interval. Things didn`t change much after the break as Saina kept engaging her rival in rallies and waited for Mitani to commit mistakes to eventually pocket the game with a smart dribble at the net.

In the second game, Mitani managed to open up a small 6-3 lead but Saina soon surged ahead with a couple of smashes to lead 9-8 and had her nose ahead at the break at 11-8.

Saina came up with a series of sharp cross court smashes to extend the lead and finally sealed the issue rather comfortably when Mitani hit wide.

After Saina`s victory, a lot was expected from Sindhu and the teen sensational delivered once again in style.

In a battle of nerves, both the shuttlers struggled to control the shuttle and committed many unforced errors.

While Sayaka lost more than a dozen points at the nets, Sindhu erred in her judgement of the shuttle and gave away points when she could not reach the shuttle at the forecourt. However, in the end it was Sindhu who had the last laugh.

In the first game, world No 13 Sayaka opened up a 9-6 lead early on but Sindhu repaired the deficit and went into the interval with a slender 11-10 lead. However, Sayaka clawed back with a mid-court smash at 16-16 and wrested back the lead when Sindhu hit long. In the end, Sindhu hit long and found the net to hand over the game to Sayaka.

The second game was another fierce battle of supremacy as both the shuttlers fought hard but it was Sayaka who had a slender 11-10 lead at the interval. But after the breather, the duo moved from 11-11 to 19-18 when Sayaka hit the net and long as Sindhu took he game to the decider.

The decider witnessed long rallies and mixed her drops and tosses well to lead7-2 but Sayaka upped her net game and used her angled returns and soft lifts to lead 9-8 before moving into the break with a 11-8 lead.

Sindhu rode once again on Sayaka?s series of unforced errors to not only claw back but also lead 17-13 after the breather. However, a couple of error in judging the shuttle by Sindhu and a brilliant rally which Sayaka ended with a cross court flick helped her to draw parity at 17-17.

Sindhu then won a line review call and made a judgement call to move to 19-17 but few errors from the Indian and the left-hander reached the match point at 20-19. Sindhu saved a point and then earned one match point with a soft tap.

What came next was a grueling battle as Sindhu conceded four match points before finally prevailing over Sayaka when the Japanese hit the net.

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