(Birmingham): India’s quest for finding its next All England champion continues as PV Sindhu looses in the semi finals of All England Championships 2018 to second seed Akane Yamaguchi of Japan. The game again went to the gruelling third set, where Yamaguchi managed to eke out a win in packed house here.
As it happened: Sindhu vs Yamaguchi
In the first game, Sindhu draw first blood by playing a body smash to earn the opening point of the match. The Indian ace blazed ahead with a healthy 6-0 lead at the start, Yamaguchi managed to lessen the points deficit but it was Sindhu who lead 11-5 at the break. The Hyderabadi shuttler didn’t let the momentum shift after the break and soon made it 16-8. However Yamaguchi made a strong comeback and brought it down to 17-14, she surged ahead and clinched three straight points to draw level at 17-17. Sindhu then took two straight points and soon made it 20-18. Yamaguchi got one back but it was Sindhu who took the first game 21-19.
In the second game, the Japanese shuttler made an aggressive start and lead 5-4, but then Sindhu made a strong comeback to surge ahead 5-6. However the second seed Yamaguchi went into the break with a two points lead over Sindhu. She kept the momentum going and was leading 16-13 at one point. The Japanese was determined to put up a great fight and she did it in style by winning the second game 21-19 to force a decider.
Sindhu lead 6-3 at the start of the 3rd game and soon made it 8-5 in her favour. She took an important four points lead going into the break. However, Yamaguchi didn’t hold back and made a strong comeback to draw level at 14-14. It was a neck to neck battle after then and the scores were tied at 17 a piece. Yamaguchi ployed ahead leading 18-19 at one point and it was a battle of nerves from then. The Japanese kept her nerves in the tense situation to clinch two straight points to enter in finals of the prestigious event.
She won 21–19, 19-21, 18-21 in 79 minutes.
Yamaguchi will now face world no. 1 and top seed Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei in the finals as India’s hunt to find its next All England Champion continues. Not to forget the present national coach Pullela Gopichand was the last Indian to win the prestigious title way back in 2001.