PV Sindhu, in front of big Dubai backing, ousts Carolina Marin at Superseries Finals
DUBAI // Greeted by a deafening roar as she walked out to the court, India’s PV Sindhu rode the wave of support from the partisan crowds to down Olympic champion Carolina Marin and book her place in the last four of the Dubai World Superseries Finals.
Akane Yamaguchi’s stunning win over Marin late on Thursday night had left Group B of the women’s singles wide open, with the possibility of a complicated three-way tie for both the top position in the group and the bottom spot.
However, Yamaguchi’s 21-15, 10-21, 10-21 loss to Sun Yu earlier in the day meant Sindhu had a more straightforward equation in front of her – beat Marin and clinch the second semi-final spot from the group, behind Sun, who had gone through with an all-win record.
Thankfully for the Indian’s fans, who had filled up the stands at the Hamdan Sports Complex hours before she followed Marin to the court, Sindhu did not disappoint, cruising to a 21-17, 21-13 win in 46 minutes.
“The crowd was obviously brilliant,” said Sindhu, who had lost to Marin in the Rio Olympics final. “They were absolutely fantastic, cheering for me really hard. That really motivated me. I hope all of them come back to support me tomorrow and I can do well again, and go even further.”
Sindhu’s quest for a place in the last four was also helped by Marin’s lower back (sacrum) injury. Though she refused to talk about the injury, the Spaniard said she will be taking a break now to heal as she returns home from the Finals without a win from three group matches.
“I have to take a break now because it is a really serious injury, and, hopefully, come back soon,” said Marin, the world No 2 who did not seem very disappointed at missing out here. “My goal for this year was the Olympic Games and I won the gold medal. So that is the most important thing for me this year.”
Lee Chong Wei, the men’s world No 1 and winner of the silver medal at three consecutive Olympics, including the last one in Rio, will also be taking an early flight out of Dubai after losing to Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen 14-21, 21-14, 21-19 in a thriller that kept the lively Friday crowd on their feet.
With Korean Son Wan-ho already assured of his place in the semis from Group B, Lee and Axelsen, the bronze medallist at the Rio Olympics, were battling it out for the second qualifying spot.
The Malaysian star had the better of the starts. Axelsen, however, fought back to win the second game and then race to an 11-5 lead in the deciding third before Lee, cheered on by the boisterous fans, reeled off five points on the trot. It was a tight race to the finish from there, and the Dane just managed to keep his nose ahead.
“I lost my focus at the start of the second game, but I am happy because I played a lot better than my last two matches,” said Lee, who was playing in his first tournament since returning from a hamstring injury.
“I not really too upset about this early exit because I am returning from an injury. Now I will just go and get ready for next season.”
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Updated: December 16, 2016 04:00 AM