Dubai: India’s PV Sindhu will have a crack of fulfilling her motive of ending the season on a high when she takes on top-ranked Akane Yamaguchi of Japan for the women’s crown, while Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen will head for a defence of his men’s singles title against Lee Chong Wei at the season-ending BWF Dubai World Superseries Finals, on Sunday.
In Saturday’s semi-finals, Sindhu set aside Chinese teenager Chen Yufei 21-15, 21-18 and earn the right to play Yamaguchi after the top-ranked player from Japan had weathered off Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon 17-21, 21-12, 21-19 in a tight and well-contested first semi-final.
Axelsen’s march into his third successive final was pretty straight-forward when the 23-year-old defending champion brushed aside Korean Son Wan Ho 21-12, 21-8 in a mere 41 minutes. The 23-year-old Dane will now meet three-time Olympic silver medallist Lee Chong Wei after the Malaysian deflated top-ranked Son Wan Ho of Korea in the last match on Saturday.
“This is the motive I had come with to Dubai and it feels nice to have achieved the first step by making it to the final,” Sindhu told media after the match.
“It is one last match tomorrow and you can be sure I will give it everything I have to end my season on a real high. It has been a great 2017 so far, but winning this one will make it even bigger and better,” she added.
Going in with a 3-2 head-to-head advantage, it was the popular Sindhu dictating terms early as she raced to a 5-0 lead in the first game. But the gutsy Chinese teen came right back to draw level at 6-6 and then edge clear.
However, Sindhu used the back of the court well and was soon in the clear at 10-8 and then 13-11. The 22-year-old from Hyderabad then suddenly shifted a gear in her attacking game to take control totally with a five-point cushion at 19-14 and then take the game 21-15 in 24 engrossing minutes.
Chen, who will turn 20 in the first week of January, had made it to the semi-finals after beating Korea’s Sung Ji Hyun and Ratchanok Intanon in her group engagements.
Though initially looking a bit phased out due to the vociferous crowd presence on Sindhu’s side, the 19-year-old Chinese showed maturity far beyond her years. She went for her shots, and she also made mistakes to hand over the initiative to her Indian opponent at crucial junctures.
Sindhu cashed in quite a bit on her opponent’s errors to eventually scamper through 21-18 in the second game to cement her maiden appearance in the year-ender finale in less than an hour.
Earlier in the men’s semi-finals it was Axelsen easily setting aside his third-ranked opponent from China. Shi Yuqi had battled against the defending champion to win in three games 13-21, 21-18, 21-17 in Friday’s last group match to book his place in the semi-finals while nudging out Hong Kong’s Ng Ka Long Angus.
In Saturday’s semi-finals it was pretty much the same as the lanky Dane dominated early for a 14-7 lead in the first game to further extend it to 18-10 with some snappy play at the net and win the opener 21-12 in 20 minutes.
In the second game, Axelsen raced to a 7-1 clearance which he then went on to build up to 11-4 as Shi sank to the floor with blisters under his left toe. The medics came in treated him and Shi gamely continued till Axelsen won the second game 21-8 to make his third successive final entry in just 41 minutes.
Sunday’s finals in all five categories will commence at 1 pm at the Hamdan Sports Complex.
(Women’s doubles) Yuki Fukushima/Sayaka Hirota (Japan) def. Huang Yaqiong/Yu Xiaohan (China) 21-13, 21-14; Shiho Tanaka/Koharu Yonemoto (Japan) def. Kamilla Rytter Juhl/Christinna Pedersen (Denmark) 21-19, 21-19.
(Men’s doubles) Marcus Fernaldi Gideon/Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo def. Takeshi Kamura/Keigo Sonoda 21-10, 18-21, 21-16; Liu Cheng/Zhang Nan (China) def. Mathias Boe/Carsten Mogensen (Denmark) 21-17, 21-16.
(Mixed doubles) Tang Chun Man/Tse Ying Suet (Hong Kong) def. Wang Yilyu/Huang Dongping (China) 18-21, 21-18, 21-17; Zheng Siwei/Chen Qingchen (China) def. Tontowi Ahmad/Liliyana Natsir (Indonesia) 21-12, 21-17.
(Men’s singles) Viktor Axelsen (Denmark) def. Shi Yuqi (China) 21-12, 21-8; Lee Chong Wei (Malaysia) bt Son Wan Ho (Korea) 21-17, 21-11.
(Women’s singles) Akane Yamaguchi (Japan) def. Ratchanok Intanon (Thailand) 17-21, 21-12, 21-19; PV Sindhu (India) def. Chen Yufei (China) 21-15, 21-18.