Rising shuttler PV Sindhu on Friday created history by becoming the first Indian woman singles player to ensure a medal at the World Badminton Championships, even as a podium finish remained elusive for Saina Nehwal as she lost for a third time in the quarterfinals.
In the process, Sindhu, who faces the promising Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand in the semifinal, made sure she will at least match Prakash Padukone’s feat of winning a singles bronze back in 1983. It will also be India’s second successive medal at the biennial event after Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa’s women’s doubles bronze in 2011.
Playing in her maiden World Championships, the 18-year-old Sindhu, seeded 10th, scored an upset 21-18 21-16 win over the local favourite and sixth seed, Shixian Wang, a former World No.1.
Sindhu’s compatriot and London Olympics bronze-medallist Nehwal, however, was erratic and could not hold her nerves as she went down rather tamely 21-23 9-21 in a 40-minute match against Korean Yeon Ju Bae at the Tianhe Indoor Stadium. In the men’s singles, Parupalli Kashyap was one point away from a medal against World No. 3 Du Pengyu but lost 21-16 20-22 15-21.
World No. 12 Sindhu had defeated Shixian in their only previous meeting. On Friday, Sindhu relied on her smashes besides hitting as many as 19 clear winners. Sindhu dominated right from the start. From 3-3 in the first game, the India pulled away and never conceded.
While Sindhu is going through a dream run, having stunned the last edition’s champion, Yihan Wang, in the last match, another Indian hope Nehwal stumbled at the last-eight stage once again.
Error prone Nehwal
Nehwal played an aggressive game and opened up a 11-7 lead at the interval. Her baseline smashes got her a lot of points and she looked in control of the match.
However, Bae, who looked off-colour initially as she struggled with her strokes and reach, slowly narrowed down the lead and clawed back at 19-19. Nehwal was struggling with the drift as she lost a lot of points hitting wide. The Indian also faltered at the net.
Bae exerted the pressure on the Indian and after