Olympic silver-medallist P.V. Sindhu defeated China’s He Bingjiao in the semifinals to set up a mouth-watering summit clash with world champion Nozomi Okuhara of Japan at the Korea Open Super Series, in Seoul on Saturday.
The 22-year-old Indian had come into the match with a 3-5 head-to-head record, having lost to the Chinese at the Asia Badminton Championship this year.
But that didn’t matter as Sindhu saw off the World No.7 21-10 17-21 21-16 in a match that lasted an hour and six minutes.
The World No.4 Indian, who had won the China Super Series Premier last year and clinched the India Super Series and Syed Modi Grand Prix Gold this season, now stands just one win away from another title.
However, it will once again be her World Championship final nemesis and eighth seed Okuhara, who will stand in the way when they clash in the final on September 17.
The Olympic bronze-medallist Japanese entered the final with a 21-17 21-18 win over World No.2 compatriot Akane Yamaguchi, seeded second.
Sindhu made a rampaging start to the opening game as she rushed to a 9-1 advantage before moving into the break at 11-4 when the left-handed Chinese hit out.
Sindhu made a few unforced errors but she didn’t let it derail her game as she moved to a 10-point advantage and sealed it when Bingjiao once again hit out.
In the second game, Sindhu and Bingjiao were tied 4-4 initially but the Indian once again clinched a five-point advantage at the break when she unleashed a body smash and then Bingjiao hit out again.
But unforced errors by Sindhu and Bingjiao’s resilience helped the Chinese slowly erase the deficit and make it 10-13.
Sindhu tried to engage her opponent in fast rallies but Bingjiao managed to claw back at 15-15 with a precise straight down-the-line smash.
Sindhu suddenly hit a bad patch as two wide shots and one of her returns were buried in the net, giving the Chinese a 20-16 advantage. A deceiving return on Bingjiao’s serve saw Sindhu save a game point but the Chinese sealed it next when the Indian found the net again.
The decider saw the longest and quickest rallies as both the shutters looked to outwit each other. Sindhu managed to lead 7-4 and 9-6 before Bingjiao clawed back with three straight points.
However, two wide shots once again spoilt Bingjiao’s run as Sindhu held the advantage for the third time at the interval.
The script didn’t change much after the break as Sindhu continued to lead even as Bingjiao struggled with her length and ended up sending the shuttle wide and long.
Sindhu moved to a 19-15 lead before Bingjiao produced a powerful smash to gather a point but the Indian was in no mood to stretch it any further as she moved to the match point when Bingjiao hit wide again.
The Indian then sealed the issue with a lucky net chord.