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PV Sindhu beats Akane Yamaguchi to enter semifinals

PV Sindhu defeated world number 1 Akane Yamaguchi of Japan to make it to the semifinals of the Thailand Open Super 500 tournament on Friday.

Sindhu, seeded sixth, prevailed 21-15, 20-22, 21-13 over second seeded Yamaguchi in 51 minutes to set up a clash with Olympic champion Chen Yu Fei of China.

The last time the duo played, the match was marred by controversy with Sindhu being penalised a point by the umpire for delaying tactics during the Badminton Asia Championships semifinals.

Sindhu came into the match with a 13-9 head-to-head record and dished out another fine performance to notch up her 14th victory over the reigning World Champion.

Nothing separated the two in the initial phase with Sindhu depending on her cross-court slices and drops to trouble Yamaguchi, who blew a three-point lead to allow Sindhu move to an 11-9 break.

Yamaguchi reeled off five match points, only for Sindhu return the favour with seven straight points as she won the opening game.

Yamaguchi looked a bit passive as her movements were not smooth and game erratic, allowing Sindhu to jump to a 11-5 advantage at the interval in the second game after winning 10 of the last 11 points without much ado. After the break, Sindhu was called for a service fault and soon Yamaguchi fought her way to 11-13 before going long. Yamaguchi played some good shots to claw back at 16-16.

A quick smash and a precise on the line return gave two game points to Yamaguchi. Sindhu saved two but faltered on her serve and then hit her shot long as the match went to the decider.

Sindhu went into the mid-game intervals with a six point advantage in the third game. Yamaguchi seemed to be facing problem with her back, which affected her strokeplay.

Sindhu led 15-11 when Yamaguchi committed errors in her return to serve. Sindhu soon unleashed her smashes and another punch-clear gave her eight match points, which she converted on second attempt.

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