Kidambi Srikanth defeated China's Huang Yuxiang to enter the final of the India Open in New Delhi on Saturday, while Parupalli Kashyap and PV Sindhu lost their semifinal encounters.
Srikanth, the World No. 7, got the better of his 30th-ranked opponent 16-21, 21-14, 21-19 in an hour and four minutes to make the title clash of the Super 500 event, where he will face Denmark's Viktor Axelsen, who beat Kashyap 21-11, 21-17. In the women's singles, Sindhu lost 23-21, 21-18 in 55 minutes to China's He Bingjiao, who will face Thailand's Ratchanok Intanon in the final.
In the first semifinal, there was little to separate Srikanth and Huang in the early stages of the opening game as both players exhibited sound defence and got into multiple cat-and-mouse exchanges at the net, mostly winning alternate points with their drop shots and deft angled backhands. At 10-10, Srikanth did well to redirect a body smash into the open court to go into the changeover with a one-point lead. That lead, however, could have been larger were it not for at least two errors on the Indian's part. At 15-14, Huang won five straight points, aided by the net on the first point. Srikanth then managed to save two game points before Huang converted the third.
In the second game, Srikanth came to life with an inside-out smash to go up 5-3, looking a different player as he stepped up his level of aggression, winning six of the next seven points to lead 11-4 at the break. From then on, Srikanth easily wrapped up the game.
In the decider, Huang did well to fight back from a three-point deficit early on, but once again it was Srikanth with an 11-10 lead at the changeover, thanks to an interception at the net. After the break, the match appeared to be going Huang's way as the Chinese managed to stay ahead despite Srikanth's attempts to level score. Down 18-16, Srikanth won four straight points, including two off big smashes, before converting his second match point to enter his first tour-level final since winning the French Open in October 2017.
Sindhu, Kashyap miss out
Over in the second semifinal, Axelsen made short work of the first game, winning 21-11 in under a quarter of an hour. Kashyap had stayed within touching distance till the break (11-8 to the Dane) but post it, the World No. 4 pulled away -- his power game proving too much for the Indian to handle.
Kashyap, though, entered the second game determined to put up more of a fight, and a lead of 11-9 at the break stood as testament to this renewed spirit. The Indian appeared to be in control of the game at 17-15 and looked set to take the game to a deciding third set when a couple of mistakes in succession allowed Axelsen to draw level. That was all the Dane required as he flew through the next four points to set up a date with Srikanth in the final.
Sindhu meanwhile did her best, but Bingjiao won the points that mattered. From 7-7 in the opening game, Sindhu won four of the next five points, thanks to a smash and a well-disguised drop shot, to lead 11-8 at the changeover. After the break, Sindhu pulled away to go up 19-13, which is when Bingjiao's comeback began. Bingjiao won seven of the next eight points to level score, including four game points. She won two points with the help of the net - another game point and the next - before converting her first game point to steal the game.
The errors began to mount for Sindhu at the start of the second but she did well to hang in the game, leading 11-9 at the break. From 14-11 down, Bingjiao fought back to 16-16 and then to 18-18 before winning three consecutive points to complete a straight-games win.