New Delhi: Olympic silver medallist P.V. Sindhu set up a summit showdown with Carolina Marin after a hard-fought win over World No. 4 Korean Sung Ji Hyun in the semifinals of the India Open Super Series here on Saturday.
Cheered on by a sizable crowd at the Siri Fort Sports Complex, Sindhu dished out a superb performance to outwit the second seeded Hyun 21-18 14-21 21- in a battle of nerves, in which fortunes fluctuated.
Fans, who kept chanting 'Sindhu' and 'India' throughout the match, will witness a rematch of the Olympic final on Sunday.
Earlier, Olympic and two-time world champion Marin of Spain, defeated Japan's Akane Yamaguchi, seeded fourth, 21-16 21-14 in an easy contest.
Coming into the match with a 6-4 head-to-head record, Sindhu displayed nerves of steel and produced some scintillating low lifts.
"I was prepared from the start because it's always a long match. So, in the second game, I was leading 5-2 but made simple errors as I hit a mid court smash outside.
"From there she lead 11-6 and I tried, but she maintained the lead and finished it off," Sindhu said.
The two-time world championship bronze medalist added, "In the decider, I was aggressive from the start. I remember last time I made some errors and gave her lead.
"So, I was prepared from the first point itself. She came back in the third but I told myself if she can win so many points why cant I and so I believed myself."
Talking about her final against Marin, Sindhu said: "At Dubai finals we played and I beat her but she defeated me at PBL but this time it will be at Delhi so I will have the support.
"But it will be a new game, new conditions, new style. She might know my game and I might know hers, we both will have this feeling that we won against each other. But it will be a fresh strategy, fresh game, so who plays best on that day will win. I just hope for the best."
Sindhu had clinched her maiden Super Series Premier title at China Open last year before reaching the final at the Hong Kong Open.
This season, she guided the Chennai Smashers to the title win at the Premier Badminton League (PBL). She started the new international season with a win at the Syed Modi International Grand prix Gold tournament at Lucknow in January.
In the first game, Hyun had opened up a 6-3 lead but Sindhu caught up with her rival when the Korean hit the net. The Indian then grabbed a three-point advantage at 10-7 but lost a point at the net and also hit out to allow Hyun narrow it to 10-9.
Sindhu entered the break when Hyun hit long.
After the interval, Hyun misjudged a shuttle at the baseline and struggled with the length as Sindhu led 13-10. The Korean tried to engage Sindhu in rallies but the Indian always produced a power-packed stroke to finish the rallies and kept her three-point lead till 19-16.
Sindhu's net play earned her a three-game point advantage and she sealed it with a smash. The second game was no different as Sindhu and Hyun again engaged in fierce rallies with some brilliant stroke play.
The Indian had a 5-2 lead but Hyun turned the tables, leading 8-5 at one stage. With unforced errors piling in, the Korean managed to reach 10-6 and entered the break with a delectable cross court drop.
Sindhu struggled with her strokes after the interval as she committed a few unforced errors to allow the Korean lead 14-8.
In the decider, Sindhu came out all guns blazing and zoomed to a 5-1 lead. Hyun tried to draw her rival to rallies but the Indian was always up for the challenge.
The Korean looked clueless as to how to break her game and at times dropped her racquet and stood frustrated. Sindhu entered the break with a 11-4 advantage as her low lift at the net proved too much for the Korean.
After the breather, Hyun reduced the margin to 12-10 but Sindhu returned Hyun's serve with a smash to break the pattern. The Korean failed to deal with the power and placement of Sindhu's returns as her errors kept creping in.
In the end, it seemed all too easy with Hyun failing to retrieve shots at the forecourt and net.
Viktor Axelsen of Denmark reached his third successive India Open final after defeating Hong Kong's Ng Ka Long Angus, seeded sixth, 21-12 21-13 to set up a clash with seventh seeded Chou Tien Chen of Chinese Taipei, who beat Denmark's Anders Antonsen 21-17 21-14 in another last-four match.
In men's doubles, Indonesian sixth seeds Ricky Karandasuwardi and Angga Pratama defeated fifth seeded Chinese combo of Li Junhui and Liu Yuchen 21-16 13-21 21-16. They will face fourth seeded Indonesian Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo, who beat Denmark's Mads Conrad-Petersen and Mads Pieler Kolding 21-14 18-21 21-9.
In women's doubles, Naoko Fukuman and Kurumi Yonao of Japan defeated compatriots Yuki Fukushima and Sayaka Hirota 21-16 21-13 to set up a final with fellow Japanese combo of Shiho Tanaka and Koharu Yonemoto, who shocked top seeded Koreans Jung Kyung Eun and Shin Seung Chan 21-16 19-21 24-22.
In mixed doubles, second seeded Chinese Lu Kai and Huang Yaqiong thrashed Husband-wife English duo of Chris Adcock and Gabrielle Adcock 21-13 21-13. They will face Zheng Siwei and Chen Qingchen in the finals. The top seeded Chinese pair were adjudged winner after Malaysian combo of Peng Soon Chan and Liu Ying Goh gave a walkover.