Tai Digs Deep – Day 4: CROWN GROUP Australian Open 2017
Friday, June 23, 2017
TEXT BY DEV SUKUMAR | BADMINTONPHOTO

Tai Tzu Ying battled through patchy form and past a difficult opponent to enter the semi-finals of the CROWN GROUP Australian Open 2017 today in Sydney.

The Chinese Taipei Women’s Singles star – not at her best as she is still recovering from flu – dug deep in the face of fast-moving and hard-hitting Indian opponent Pusarla V Sindhu, eventually hitting her stride in the home stretch: 10-21 22-20 21-16.

It was the athleticism and power of Pusarla versus the versatility of Tai, who showed only glimpses of her famed trickery. For the early part of the match Tai was under the gun as Pusarla’s power and reach dominated the exchanges; the Indian had a match point in the second but blew her shot wide.

The Indian once again took control and at 14-10 in the third appeared to have things under control. It was at this point that Tai (featured image) shifted gears; Pusarla was dragged to the corners and dealt sudden flashes of deception – Tai picked off five straight points, and finished the match with a held-back drop shot that left her opponent stranded mid-court.

“She was playing very well today, all I could do was to keep working hard,” said Tai. “She had some unlucky misses in the second game. I wasn’t 100 percent, my throat still feels itchy and I have a runny nose, but it’s okay.”

The top seed will face No.3 seed Akane Yamaguchi (Japan), who powered past China’s Chen Yufei, 21-15 21-14.

Chinese Taipei had a day to savour, with Yang Po Han and Lu Ching Yao’s dream run continuing in Men’s Doubles. The duo made their first World Superseries semi-finals, beating Korea’s Choi Solgyu/Kim Dukyoung in a fast-paced encounter, 21-16 21-18.

“It feels great, we’re very excited,” said Yang Po Han. “We’ve been working very hard together… it’s all about trusting each other and keeping our focus.”

Yang and Lu face Japan’s Takeshi Kamura/Keigo Sonoda, who prevented an all-Chinese Taipei semi-final by beating Wang Chi-Lin/Chen Hung Ling 21-18 21-19.

In Men’s Singles, Kidambi Srikanth’s recent form continued to blossom as he won only his second match in seven encounters against compatriot Sai Praneeth. After a close first game, Praneeth faltered in not maintaining the pressure on Kidambi, who steadily grew in confidence and closed out the match 25-23 21-17.

“The first game was very close, I lost four game points. That’s been the pattern every time I’ve lost to top players, I’ve missed my opportunities,” said Kidambi. “I have to avoid that. We know each other’s game pretty well. You just have to be patient. He’s a tricky player, he has variety. You have to be steady and take those special shots and retrieve them.”

The Indian is in his third straight Superseries semi-final, a turnaround from his modest form of last season. “It’s going great so far, not really thinking too much,” he said. “I just want to play well, because I missed six-seven tournaments last year, I just want to play as many games as possible.”

In Mixed Doubles, Wang Yilyu and Huang Dongping set up an all-China semi-final against top seeds Zheng Siwei/Chen Qingchen after beating England’s Chris Adcock/Gabrielle Adcock 22-20 21-15.

The England pair had everything doing well for them at 20-18 in the first, but missed both game points and their game declined rapidly from that point.

“Obviously it was tough, we are good at being resilient, but today losing those game points did affect us,” said Gabrielle Adcock. “We beat ourselves today and that’s a tough one to take. It was frustrating for us, I think we did lose our spirit in the second game.”

PARTNERS