Warriors' PV Sindhu reaches for a backhand shot against Masters' Tine Baun during their clash in the semifinals on Thursday. (Photo: Nagesh Polali)
It went to the wire, but Awadhe Warriors maintained their superiority over Mumbai Masters, defeating them 3-2 to storm into the final of the Indian Badminton League on Thursday. They take on Hyderabad Hotshots in Mumbai on August 31.
World No 1 Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia outplayed RMV Gurusaidutt 21-15, 21-7 to give Mumbai Masters the lead. Awadhe Warriors came back strongly when the 18-year-old world No 10 PV Sindhu upset world No 6 Tine Baun of Denmark 21-16, 21-13.
The unbeaten Awadhe Warriors doubles pair of Markis Kido of Indonesia, the 2008 Olympic doubles gold winner, and Mathias Boe of Denmark proved too superior to the Masters’ Indian combo of Sumeeth Reddy and Pranav Chopra. They won 21-15, 21-10 to give Warriors a 2-1 lead.
Masters’ Vladimir Ivanov and Warriors’ K Srikanth fought a pitched battle, fighting for every point before Ivanov won 21-20, 21-19 to make it 2-2 as Masters’ co-owner Sunil Gavaskar joined in applauding him.
All eyes were on the mixed doubles match between Warriors’ Markis Kido and Pia Bernadeth and Masters’ Ivanov and Baun, who had a muscle problem. Kido and Pie pulled it off with a 21-19, 21-15 win with a splendid display of controlled smashing and drop shots.
“I love this crowd. They keep chanting my name and it inspires me a lot,” said Lee. And that indeed worked in his favour as he played at a leisurely pace and was in command all along.
Lee rarely demonstrated the lethal power that he has in his forehand smashes, yet kept up a steady flow of flicks and lobs to keep his lead going. Guru did come up with a couple of spectacular forehand cross court winners, but then, Lee was barely extended.
“When Tine is your opponent, you cannot take any game easy. She gave a good fight from the first game itself. Finally when I was leading 5-4 in the second set, I could relax a bit and won the match,” said Sindhu after the game.
With age clearly on her side, Sindhu was able to wrong foot Baun often. The former world No 1 also committed many unforced errors, even serving long when she used the high serves. Sindhu kept her cool all along and produced some crisp forehand down-the-line and cross court winners to cruise home in just over half-an-hour.