South Korea’s Sung Ji-Hyun beat India’s Olympic silver medalist PV Sindhu 21-15 18-21 21-15 to enter the Dubai Superseries finals in a marathon battle that lasted for an hour and 16 minutes.
Coming into the game, it was Sindhu who was the favourite with a 6-3 head-to-head record against Sung. The advantage swung back and forth in a breakneck manner in the first two games but Sung’s dominant display in the decider proved to be the difference between the players in a hard-fought, intense battle.
The first game was a see-saw battle between the two players. The Korean opened up a three-point lead, with her play at the net being a standout feature. Sindhu came back with a couple of strong cross-court smashes but Sung still held on to a slender lead at 13-10.
The Indian shrunk her opponent’s lead to a solitary point at 14-15, wearing Sung down in the rallies. A combination of unforced errors over the back line and some ferocious smashes meant helped Sung close down the first game, 21-15.
Sindhu replied strongly in the second game, and was the pace-setter throughout. Sung kept pace but was unable to take the lead. There was little breathing space between the two. Here, Sindhu out-manouvered her opponent by pushing her to the back court regularly and returning with panache.
From 18-all, Sindhu held her nerve to clinch the game, 21-18. Sung blazed her way to a 4-0 lead in the final game. Sung, this time, kept the pressure on the Hyderabad shuttler and was near-unplayable at times. Two consecutive body smashes helped Sung to take a sizeable lead at 15-9.
Sindhu kept coming back but Sung preserved her early advantage, picking up points in a stretch to win the final game, 21-15.