BWF World Tour Finals: PV Sindhu beats defending champion Akane Yamaguchi in opener
Olympic silver medallist PV Sindhu overcame defending champion and World No.2 Akane Yamaguchi in the opening women’s singles Group A match at the World Tour Finals in Guangzhou on Wednesday.
Sindhu, who finished runner-up last year, beat the Japanese 24-22, 21-15 in straight games to advance to the next round.
The world number six led 9-4 in head-to-head record against Yamaguchi before this encounter and gave little opportunity to the Japanese to bounce back and improve her record.
Both the shuttlers started well and fought in long rallies for each point with Yamaguchi leading 6-11 at the first break. But Sindhu rallied back to hold the Japanese 19-19 and eventually seal the opening set 24-22.
In the second game, Sindhu started well and led 3-1 initially but Yamaguchi bounced back with repeated backhands to lead 4-3 at one stage before a judgment-error gave Sindhu once again the lead at 6-3.
But Yamaguchi is not among those to give up hope and soon levelled the game at 9-9 and also took an 11-10 slender lead at the break after Sindhu hit the net. The match continued on the same run with neither giving the other space to accelerate. Sindhu returned to take the lead to 14-11follwoing two unforced errors from Yamaguchi and a smash down the right.
From there Sindhu dominated the proceedings increasing her lead to six-point at 18-11. The Japanese took two more points before another wide shot took Sindhu to 19. She reached match point when Yamaguchi hit the net and then sealed the set when Yamaguchi failed to return a serve.
But Sameer Verma went down in straight sets against the world champion and World No.1 Kento Momota of Japan. Verma, who is only the second men’s singles player after Kidambi Srikanth to qualify for the tournament, lost 18-21, 6-21 in Group B opener.
He will now have to beat Kantaphon Wangcharoen of Thailand and Indonesia’s Tommy Sugiarto in the other matches to have any chances of qualifying for the knockout stage.
Top eight-ranked players from each category have qualified for the prestigious tournament. Top two players from each group will qualify for the semifinals.