UBER CUP 2014 QF – India keep marching on

It was a historic result for the home nation, India, as their Uber Cup team is through to the last four after a very convincing three-love win over Indonesia, securing […]

It was a historic result for the home nation, India, as their Uber Cup team is through to the last four after a very convincing three-love win over Indonesia, securing at least a bronze medal in the prestigious event.

By Tarek Hafi, Badzine correspondent.  Photos: Badminton Photo (live)

Their Uber Cup quarter-final win against badminton powerhouse Indonesia is a remarkable result for the Indian ladies.  Two years ago, they were not even able to make it out of the preliminary rounds, but they have now secured at least a bronze medal and are now looking ahead to a possible upset tomorrow against Japanese ladies.

India has not been among the last four at the Uber Cup since the inaugural event in 1957, when the Indian team was the only Asian representative in a final round of three teams.

The 2014 encounter started perfectly with Indian superstar Saina Nehwal (pictured) outplaying her Indonesian opponent Lindaweni Fanetri.  Despite a bad start, Saina proved how determined she was, slowly coming back, blocking every issue from Lindaweni, who was left absolutely clueless on how to tactically approach this match.

An avalanche of cross-court smashes led the first women’s single in the right direction, putting constant pressure on the Indonesian.  After a comparatively balanced first game, which she won 21-17, Saina completely dominated the second, earning a well deserved first point for her team after Fanetri’s smash found the net at 20-10.

Next up, 18-year-old Pusarla Venkata Sindhu, stepped onto the court with a boosted confidence, willing to prove she’s close to reaching her famous compatriot’s level.  The young Indian probably expected a long match as she proved consistent throughout the rubber against Bellaetrix Manuputty (pictured below).  And indeed she went the long distance, both players in complete agony in the end of the deciding game, trying desperately to get the shuttle down as fast as possible.

In the end, it was P. V. Sindhu (pictured top) who came out stronger at this game, saving two match points before finally bringing in her own on the third try and taking a very essential point to India to keep the crowd fired-up.

It was time for the Commonwealth Games gold medallists to prove they had the mental and technical qualities to secure a place on the final podium.  Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa took on the dangerous Greysia Polii and Nitya Krishinda Maheswari, in their very first encounter with the Thailand Open champions.

Despite her long break from the badminton world – during which she played only 4 international tournaments in 14 months before getting back to her partnership with Ponnappa last fall – Jwala Gutta proved she is back to her peak.  She showed great domination at the front, while Ashwini remained very active at the back.

The two Indian ladies kept leading by few points, showing great willingness after winning the first game 21-18.  They maintained the fast pace well in the second game, bringing a first match point at 20-14.  The Indonesians were not ready to give up on their match that easily, and climbed step by step until they trailed only 18-20, but then a well-placed cross-court net shot proved to tight for Maheswari to retrieve.  From the moment the shuttle hit the floor, the celebrations started all around the hall, with an overjoyed team and crowd all united after witnessing history being made by their home team.

The Indian ladies will now have to take on Japan, a tough opponent that has shown consistency in both singles and doubles.  But the home team ladies will probably have their word to say in Friday’s match, too.

Uber Cup semi-final line-up:
China vs. Korea
India vs. Japan

Thomas Cup semi-final line-up:
China vs. Japan
Malaysia vs. Indonesia

Click here for complete Thursday results

About Tarek Hafi