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India Open: Kidambi Srikanth seals spot in final, PV Sindhu crashes out

Olympic silver medallist Sindhu, who had won the event in 2017, blew four game points in the opening game to go down fighting 21-23 18-21 to China's He Bingjiao. 

India Open: Kidambi Srikanth seals spot in final, PV Sindhu crashes out
Image Credits: PTI

Former champion Kidambi Srikanth reached the final after a 17-month drought but PV Sindhu bowed out after losing a close semifinal contest at the USD 350,000 India Open on Saturday.

Olympic silver medallist Sindhu, who had won the event in 2017, blew four game points in the opening game to go down fighting 21-23 18-21 to China's He Bingjiao. The third seed will face two-time champion Ratchanok Inthanon of Thailand in the finals on Sunday.

"I think I need to be more patient, I should have taken the first set, it was crucial for me but after losing it, I became a bit nervous. I made crucial mistakes in the second game," Sindhu said.

"I did change strategies. She also got lucky with net cords in the first game. I came back and could have maintained the lead but I couldn't. She played well."

Srikanth had entered the finals of the Commonwealth Games last year but he has failed to reach the summit clash in any BWF Superseries or BWF World Tour tournament since his French Open win in October, 2017.

The 26-year-old from Guntur on Saturday eked out a 14-21 21-16 21-19 triumph over China's Huang Yuxiang in an engrossing semi-final encounter.

 He will face second seed Viktor Axelsen, who beat India's Parupalli Kashyap 21-11 21-17, in the final.

"It's been really long since I reached a final. I'm just happy to be here, playing the final again," Srikanth said.

"I was trailing in the decider and I am happy to pull it off. I'm happy to come back in the second. It was about keeping the shuttle in. The crowd kept me going in."

In the women's semi-final, Sindhu managed to hold a 11-8 lead at the break. She kept the shuttle in play, mixing her strokes to push Bingjiao to commit errors to lead 20-16. But the Indian committed a heap of unforced errors to allow the Chinese to level the score.

At 21-21, a lucky net chord put Bingjiao in the lead leaving Sindhu frustrated, who sent another one at the net to lose the opening game.

The second game started on an even note as the duo rode on each other's errors to tie 8-8 before Sindhu grabbed a 11-9 advantage at the break.

The Indian stayed a step ahead, despite Bingjiao's constant threat. At 16-13, a few weak returns from Sindhu allowed the Chinese to level scores.

Bingjiao quickly grabbed two points to take two match points. Sindhu then sent the next shuttler to the net to bow out.

In the men's singles semi-finals, Srikanth used his flat tosses and deep lifts to engage his rival into rallies but Huang was also up to the task before the Indian managed to hold a 11-10 lead at the first break.

The duel continued before the Chinese moved to a 18-14 lead after the Indian lost a few points at the net. Srikanth saved two game points with a cross-court smash and a precise net shot before hitting wide to lose the first game.

In the second game, Srikanth came on his own, opening up a 8-4 lead after playing some exceptional strokes. The Indian continued to dominate the proceedings after the breather and roared back into the contest when the Chinese hit the net.

In the decider, Srikanth was a step ahead initially but a wrong line call, a smash going wide and a net error allowed the Chinese to make it 8-7. The Indian, however, ensured a slender 11-10 lead at the break.

After the change of sides, Srikanth constructed the rallies but ended up hitting wide and long to fall 15-17.

A precise on-the-line smash helped him to draw parity at 18-18. He pounced on to a weak return and then grabbed two match points after Huang hit wide. The Chinese saved one before hitting the net.