Top seed Yamaguchi eyes title after reaching Asia C’ship final

Akane Yamaguchi hits a return against India’s Pusarla V. Sindhu uring their women’s singles semifinal match at the Badminton Asia Championships in Muntinlupa, suburban Manila on Saturday.

MANILA (AFP-Jiji) — Top seed Akane Yamaguchi battled back to reach the Badminton Asia Championships final with a controversial win over Indian rival P.V. Sindhu on Saturday.

Yamaguchi is the favorite to retain her women’s singles crown when she faces China’s unseeded Wang Zhiyi in the title-decider on Sunday in Manila.

Fourth-seeded Sindhu claimed the first game of her semifinal against the reigning world champion 21-13 and was leading 14-11 in the second when the umpire ruled that the Indian player was taking too long to serve.

A clearly unhappy Sindhu, an Olympic silver and bronze medalist, argued her case with the officials, but to no avail, and she conceded a point penalty to her opponent.

She appeared to lose her focus and rhythm after that, allowing Yamaguchi to come back to claim the second game 21-19 and the deciding third 21-16.

“That was one of the reasons I lost, that’s my feeling. At that point it was 14-11 and you never know, it would have been 15-11,” Sindhu said of the umpiring decision that proved to be a turning point in the match.

“It was very unfair, maybe I would have won the match and I would have played in the final.”

Wang, the world No. 16, booked her place in the final with a shock 10-21, 21-12, 21-16 victory over South Korea’s second seed An Se-young.

The men’s final is a showdown between Malaysia’s Lee Zii Jia and Jonatan Christie of Indonesia.