World championship silver medallist Kidambi Srikanth signed off with a bronze but double Olympic medallist PV Sindhu and debutant Lakshya Sen stayed on course for maiden gold medals at the Commonwealth Games 2022 on Sunday.
Srikanth prevailed over Singapore's world number 87 Jia Heng Teh 21-15 21-18 to claim a bronze medal to go with the silver that he had won four years ago in Gold Coast. The Singaporean grimaced in pain after suffering cramps on his left thigh in the second game but still kept fighting till the end.
Earlier, Sindhu, who has a silver and a bronze from the 2018 and 2014 editions, rode on her technical superiority to outwit Singapore's Yeo Jia Min 21-19 21-17 in a 49-minute contest to reach her second successive final. The Indian had also beaten Min in the team event.
In the following match, world number 10 Sen, making his CWG debut, seemed to have lost his way after a dominating start against Jia but recovered in time to complete a 21-10, 18-21, 21-16 win in the men's singles semifinals.
Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty ensured a third gold medal match for India on Monday when they downed Malaysia's Chen Peng Soon and Tian Kian Men 21-6, 21-15 to reach the men's doubles final. The world number 7 pair, who had claimed a silver at Gold Coast, was too good for the Malaysians.
It could have been an all-Indian men's singles final but an error-prone Srikanth squandered a first game advantage to lose to lower-ranked Tze Yong Ng 21-13, 19-21, 21-10 in the semifinals. It was his second successive defeat to the Malaysian, having lost to him in three games in the mixed team final as well.
The world number 42 Tze had shocked reigning world champion Yew Kean Loh of Singapore in the quarterfinal and would face Sen in the summit clash on Monday. After winning the opening game, the 13th ranked Srikanth made too many unforced errors to go down in the semifinals. From 4-4 in the decider, errors rained from Srikanth's racket, leaving him frustrated on court.
With the Malaysian leading 17-9, there was no point of return for the Indian who netted a forehand on match point. The Indian women's doubles pairing of Treesa Jolly and Gayatri Gopichand, who lost to the seasoned Malaysian combine of Thinnah Muralitharan and Pearly Koon Le Tan in the semifinals in straight games, will play for bronze later in the day.
In the first men's singles semifinal, Sen was stretched by his Singaporean opponent. He relied on relentless attack to put his Singaporean opponent on the backfoot and he was able to do that in the first game. A couple of forehand smashes on the Singaporean's right helped him take a 1-0 lead in the match.
The momentum shifted towards Jia in the second game as he slowed the pace of the game. A drop shot followed by a backwand winner made it 8-8 before Jia went into the interval with a 9-11 advantage.
A slew of unforced errors from Sen saw Jia take the next five points to make it 9-16. Sen tried to hang in the game, but after the Singaporean took a shoe change break at 15-18, he was able to level the match when Sen hit a forehand long.
Sen built an 11-7 lead in the decider though Jia made the Indian work hard for every point. The Singaporean was also given a last warning for delay in between points. Sen got four points and converted the first one with a deft drop shot that set up a backhand winner.
“I didn't get in the rhythm in the second but I managed to pull it off in the end. The crowd support also helped a lot in the first game,” said Sen. “It was a tough game today. I have played him before, so I was expecting a good, fast-paced match.
“I wanted to control the net much better, but overall and from the back, the defence was very good. That was a really good match before the final,” said Sen.
Earlier, former world champion Sindhu was clearly the better player on display as she kept a firm grip on the match, despite being a bit restricted in her movement with the achilles of her left leg strapped.
Trailing 4-8, Sindhu managed to enter the break with a two-point lead after producing a straight drop. The Indian produced the right shots at the right time to surge ahead even as Yeo was too erratic to put any pressure on the Indian.
It was a weak forehand return going to the net that gave Sindhu three game points, and she converted it on the third attempt to lead 1-0.
It turned into a seesaw battle in the second game with the two playing some intense rallies, but Sindhu ensured she had her nose ahead at the interval and maintained her strangehold to grab five match points.
She squandered two match points before unleashing a pitch-perfect body smash to secure her place in the final.